Your memorable teachers

A comment in another post reminded me of my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Gordon.

Milman/mailman. Children can have interesting pronunciations. Very young children may have trouble pronouncing the letter ‘r’, for example. (Heck, some adults have trouble pronouncing ‘realtor’ and ‘jewelry’!) When I was in 3rd grade, apparently I inserted a y-sound before a short ‘a’. My classmates and I were lined up outside the classroom, waiting to go in, and Mrs. Gordon heard me say something about math. She loudly exaggerated my mispronunciation in front of everybody. '“Myath”? What is “myath”? I’ve never heard of it! Do you mean math? :dubious: ’ Ever since then, I’ve paid attention to pronunciation; and by extension, grammar, vocabulary, and other aspects of language.

During one class, Mrs. Gordon was reading us a story (we may have been following along – I don’t recall) about a fox. One night, the fox came to a road; which is something he’d never seen. Mrs. Gordon read to us that the fox saw ‘two fiery suns’ approaching him. 'Do you know what the fox saw? Anybody? “Two fiery suns”. Coming down the road. Who knows what the two fiery suns are? Come on! Two fiery suns! Are you all stupid? :mad: ’ She finally told us they were automobile headlights, and asked us how we could be so stupid as to not know that. I almost said, ‘None of us drive a car!’ But I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to get yelled at.

Mrs. Gordon was a teacher who was memorable for her unsuitability for being a teacher. Mr. Hyatt, my 5th grade teacher, was great. He played a guitar, brought his SCUBA gear into class, and told us about his kayaking and other adventures. He had a great sense of humour, and he put up with mine. (I’ve always been a clown. :wink: ) In 2nd grade, Mrs. Bell consistently mis-pronounced ‘Dud’ (short for ‘Dudley’) as ‘Dude’ in a story she was reading. But I was taught to respect my elders, and didn’t correct her. In high school, nobody liked Mrs. Parrish. I was involuntarily shifted to her English class because nobody signed up for it. ‘To be fair’, students who signed up last for other English classes were put into her class. Registration was by surname, and mine comes later in the alphabet. Yeah, really fair. :rolleyes: I’m sure I would have preferred the speculative fiction-based class I was in; but I actually enjoyed Mrs. Parrish’s class (we read Alas, Babylon :slight_smile: ), found her to be ‘tough but fair’, and received an ‘A’ for my grade.

We all remember some or most of our teachers for one thing or another. Let’s hear about yours.

Had a lot of good teachers, but two stand out not for teaching me their subject, but what the taught me about myself and how to approach life.

First was Mr. Anderson, my first year drafting teacher. He taught me I can always do better. I would turn in a drawing that I thought was perfect, and he’d find where line thicknesses changed, corners didn’t meet, barely seeable smudges existed, etc. It got to be a game with me. I wasn’t going to let him beat me. So I got better. He’d refine his criticism. So I got better, and better. eventually, I think I gained a little respect. He’d actually smile near the end when he found it hard to find things wrong. I applied this to my other courses–not letting the teacher “beat me”. I don’t think Mr. Anderson’s style would go very far in today’s environment. I think he would be seen as a bully (I thought he was an asshole), but I wouldn’t be where I was today without that push to be better.

Next was my Machine shop teacher (I went to Lane Tech in Chicago. I don’t even remember his name, just that he had a job as a machinist at Bodine Electric after school. You had to take 2 years of shop and two of drafting). He was just as hard as Anderson. We had to be accurate to 5/10000 of an inch (if you were off by half a tick on a micrometer, you had to do it again). He taught me to ask questions. I remember him saying, “Your parents are paying taxes that pay my salary. If you don’t use me to get your job done, you are letting your parents down and wasting their money.” So many people are afraid to look stupid asking questions. He made you feel stupid if you didn’t ask questions. At my performance review last week, my boss said I was one of the few people he trusted because I have a knack for being able to get to the crux of the problem and come up with solutions. That’s only because I’m not afraid to ask “stupid” questions and I’m practiced at asking the right questions. All because of the influence of a geeky guy with birth control glasses, patchy sideburns almost to his jaw bone and a blue lab coat.

Mrs. Giambroni was my first grade teacher. Very nice lady, patient and kind. Years later I worked with both of her sons on the local newspaper.

Mrs. Harris read Sherlock Holmes stories to us during breaks, so I’m forever grateful to her for that introduction to the great Conan Doyle. I still remember her reading “The Speckled Band” and “The Red-Headed League” to us.

Mrs. Graham was the principal at the time I was bullied by two kids out on the playground. I told her what had happened and she got a look in her eye that told me those two were in BIG trouble. Sure enough, they never bothered me again.

Mrs. Hill was the only teacher who ever spanked me. A big, red-faced, no-nonsense lady. I knew her son a little, and he was OK, but I thought she overreacted and never quite forgave her.

Miss Doolittle was my U.S. history teacher in high school. Cute (I had a little crush on her), loved the subject, and very encouraging. I won a history prize that year in part because of her backing.

Mr. Joyce was my art teacher in high school. A Coast Guard vet, movie-star-handsome, not your stereotypical art teacher at all. Great guy. I went through a phase where I was very into designing logos, and he gave me names for lots of fictitious organizations and companies to do - my favorite was the Yokum Yo-Yo Corporation! Very sorry to learn of his death a few years ago.

I could go on and on. I really got a good education over the years, and am grateful to many great teachers along the way.

Mr. Murin, junior high science. Fun teacher, loaned out Atari 2600 cartridges and ran an afterschool D&D campaign.

Mr. LoGreco, high school geometry. Picked up his Cajun accent.

Señora Calero, high school Spanish, algebra, and faculty advisor for Key Club.

Señora de León, high school Spanish. She and Señora Calero led their students in navidad villancicos.

A teacher’s aide to Mr. Sanders, high school drafting. Don’t recall her name but she was young, pretty, and had a tendency to brush her chest against my elbow when visiting my desk.

My first year of college I took a histroy class that covered the US Revolutionary War therough the Civil War. I always hated histroy and was not looking forward to it.
The instructor had an absolute passion for the subject and was a master story teller. There was no text book for the class. He just had a large map of the US behind him and would write the names of certain key people and places. Then he would just start telling the story off the top of his head for the next hour. It was riveting. Like watching a mini series but having it told to you.
I couldn’t wait for the class every couple days to see what happened next since he would always leave a cliff hanger.
Never had to study for exams cause he told you everything in such a compelling way that you’d just remember it.

Mr.Adlenge , he , I think and hope he is still alive , is an Indian came to live in France. I loved his way of talking , he always was nice to me. He was funny too , cause of him , my sense of humor evolved. I could tell he had an almost child-like , yet kind as mine , mind.

His favorite band later became my favorite band. Nirvana (Hence the username) , which I’ve been a fan of since 2001. I’ve a decent job now. Though my college teachers were shit…Some of the most memorable moments

Mr.Adlenge said , while teaching a lesson , “So. Who would you like to be when you’ll be older?”

one my friends jokingly said “Lata Mangeshar” , a popular Indian classic singer. He smiled and continued the lesson. And well…when the same kid joked about another teacher’s race…his joke was taken seriously. My friend was expelled. He still bitches about that event.

ERRATA: I think ‘Mrs. Gordon’ in the OP was actually Mrs. Gower.

My 3rd grade teacher was Mrs Melson. Perfect combination of discipline, humor, and ability to teach her subjects. She took no nonsense from anyone, but we all loved her.

My 4th grade teacher was Mrs Putman. She’s the one who read The Hobbit to the class, a little every day. Unfortunately she left halfway through the year, pregnant, and left us with Miss Fink (not as bad as she sounds).

I had the same teacher for Junior English (an accelerated course) and Senior Shakespeare, where we put on The Taming of the Shrew for the school. Sadly I don’t remember her name. She was a petite woman, but one time she picked me up (after asking my permission) in a fireman’s carry (over the shoulder) to demonstrate to the male lead that he should have no problem picking up our rather robust Kate and carrying her offstage in that manner. I was 6’3" and about 160 pounds at the time. I think I was the biggest kid in class, which is why she picked on me. I think I had a little crush on her, as much as a closeted gay kid could have I guess.

Dr. Stubbs was my fifth grade teacher. I think she was the first to make a lasting impression on me.

She had a huge reputation for being a bitch. She was the kind of teacher who, if she caught you cutting up during Assembly, would snatch you out of your chair and drag you by your ear. Even if you weren’t in her class. My fourth grade classroom was next door to her room, and we could always hear her screaming and yelling at her kids. Everyone swore she was the meanest teacher. All summer I prayed I didn’t end up in her clutches. But alas, I did.

And she WAS a bitch. She had the worst temper. During her shout fests, her face would go from red to purple to blue. I remember sitting in my desk trembling in fear as she yelled at us.

Yet, she was also a ton of fun and humor. She was an excellent teacher and she seemed to care about each one of us. Especially me. She made me feel smart and talented above and beyond what was deserved.

The fifth graders were responsible for the school paper, and she was in charge of the production. I was the resident illustrator. One day we were rapidly approaching the deadline and Dr. Stubbs caught me goofing off when I should have been working on my assignment. She laid into me real good and I started bawling my eyes out. I remember all the other kids were outside at recess while I was stuck inside, drawing and crying like a baby because I just knew Dr. Stubbs was going to kill me. When she saw my work, she apologized profusely for yelling and assured me I was a good girl. It was the first time a grown-up had ever humbled themselves in front of me before.

She took us to Jekyll Island on the fifth grade trip. It’s the first time I’d been to a salt marsh or had seen a real beach. The whole experience blew my mind. When we got back to school, she quizzed us on all the facts we were supposed to have learned. I kept raising my hand because I had absorbed everything like a sponge. I was a font of marine biology knowledge. Finally, she had me come to the front of the room and teach the class.

At the end of the year at the awards ceremony, she presented me with Rachel Carson’s “The Edge of the Sea”. My first grown-up book.

Fifteen years later I would earn my PhD in marine biology.

Mr. Christiansen was my senior calculus teacher. He was a good teacher, but that’s not what made him memorable. I used to hang out in his room after school because I loved calculus (thought I now find that hard to believe–it’s all gone). After I knew him quite well, I found out that he was a fundamentalist Christian (he never mentioned religion in class). I was fascinated, and he was fascinated that I was Jewish and a nonbeliever. I remember he told me the entire story of the Book of Revelation–which he believed literally–and I was dumbfounded. We had some very interesting discussions, and were entirely respectful of each other. It was a good lesson to learn young.

I didn’t have any truly influential grade school teachers. I do remember my third grade teacher for all the wrong reasons. He assigned a book report a week and they had to be a full page. Then he made it a competition and devoted a full bulletin board to keeping track of exactly how many book reports everyone in the class had turned in. Needless to say, it almost turned me off reading. I hated that. He also thought around the world was the Best Game Ever so we could all be shown on a regular basis that the same two boys were The Smartest. His worst characteristic though was insisting on the first day of school that he loved nicknames, so he came up with nicknames in that first week . . . for everybody . . . without knowing us at all. Mine was just a feminine rhyme with my last name and sucked so thankfully it was never used. I felt badly for the girl who made the mistake of wearing a MASH t-shirt the first week of school and ended up getting called Hot Lips all year. 'Cause that’s an appropriate thing to call a nine year old. :rolleyes:

I had several good teachers in high school. My chemistry and Physics teacher was the best. He would get so excited about his subject he would literally bounce up and down and wave his arms in excitement. He went out of his way to get a fantastic hands on physics lab curriculum (had to travel four states away during the summer for the continuing ed class.) We spent the year going outside and using physics in a big, hands on way. Launching water balloons across the football field was a favorite lab.

I had the same math teacher three out of the four years of high school. He was a great teacher. I find myself using lines of his when teaching students math. Things like “There is no such thing as subtraction. You’re just adding negative numbers.” He also helped me see how important math is in every day life.

My fourth math course (the first being analytical geometry, which was taught separately those days, followed by a year of calculus, which I did well in, but didn’t much care for) was a course called Introduction to modern algebra). Prof G taught us a course that covered essentially a graduate course in the subject. I know for I have taught that course many times. The pace was hellish, but by the end of the year I was a mathematician–and an algebraist.

Just in case anyone is interested, here is what we covered in that year: the usual intro to groups, rings, fields. Then we turned to Galois theory, using Artin’s Notre Dame notes, finishing half of it by the end of the first term. We covered the rest of the book in the first month of the second term and then did the first five chapters of Artin, Nesbitt, and Thrall’s Rings with minimum condition, including all the Wedderburn structure theory.

The evidence for how memorable the course was is that I can still recite that list of topics and texts 58 years later. Prof G has no memory of this course (I’ve asked him since).

No question about it, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Haley, who I had for music and choir in the 9th grade.

She was a big, black, matronly woman who was very loving and close to her students, but took no crap from anyone. If elements of the class got out of hand, she wasn’t above hurling a big book across the room to make a point.

This was a time when many schools had just integrated, and it might have seemed inadvisable to rule a 90% white class with such a firm attitude (some other black teachers took the meek and mild approach), but she made it work.

She had a deep voice, and at that age, boys are just getting used to their new vocal range, so she sang along with the basses in concerts to reinforce the sound. While directing the choir on stage, with her back to the audience, she could get away with it.

She was very casual ordinarily, but when she dressed for a concert, she became prim and proper, wearing a pretty purple orchid on her bosom. Her flamboyant arm gestures used in rehearsal became, on stage, modest and precise hand movements only the choir could see, blocked from the audience by her substantial bulk.

We loved her. 30 years later, when I looked up a former classmate and we began to reminisce, someone asked who our favorite teacher was, and we looked at each other, unrehearsed, and said spontaneously, “Mrs. Haley!”

It took a while, but I finally forgave her for a grading mistake during a music test. I was an accomplished musician for my age, and a beginner’s test of simple music theory was no test at all. But when Mrs. Haley put the names of all of the students in her classes who got a perfect score on the blackboard, mine wasn’t on it. When I protested, she regraded the test (it had been wrongly graded by students) and found mine was perfect. I don’t think either of us forgot that.

Before I came to her class, she divided the piano accompanying tasks among several students since it was too much for one player. But I could play not only all of the songs, but learned ones for her other classes as well, so she only had one accompanist that year.

Even though I wasn’t planning on a music career at the time, she always claimed that I would end up in music anyway. She was partly right.

My best teacher, bar none, was Mr. Bradbury. He was my sixth grade elementary teacher.

The year I had him was his first year teaching on his own. Young, enthusiastic, and he liked science fiction and fantasy. Read us a chapter of The Hobbit every day. I thought I wouldn’t like it, then found myself not wanting to have weekends, because it would be two days until I could hear more. So I ended up reading it on my own later, then the LOTR, then moving on to sci-fi as well.

When we were supposed to learn how to write stories of our own he told us to make it a science fiction story. How many teachers in the 60’s would do that? That year was the first year of ST-TOS, so I ended up finding all the science fiction I could find. Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, plus anything else I could get my hands on.

Because of Mr. Bradbury I read things, and got ideas, met people and went places later that I never would have without his inspiration.

Then there was his wedding. He got married the summer after our class, and we were all invited to the wedding. It was about forty miles away, but eight of us showed up, all girls of course, the guys wouldn’t have been caught dead at a wedding. First wedding present I ever bought was for him, it cost all of seven dollars. First time I ever wore nylon stockings. Mom coached me on wedding ettiquette and I felt so grown up when the usher at the little church offered me his arm to escort me.

A few years ago Mr. Bradbury retired. and I went to the retirement reception. I also wrote a letter to the editor of our paper, and it was printed, thanking him for all he’d taught us, and for the things I’d learned and the effect they’d had on me.

I’ve had other good teachers, but Mr. Bradbury, you were the best!

Richard B. Betteridge, B-7 math teacher. (ETA: Looked just like Colonel Sanders.) Really turned me on to math.

Every Friday was “geometry” day. We brought compass and straightedge, and he showed us how to make various neat geometrical drawings.

Miss Whalen, my third grade teacher. First real hippie I ever met. She volunteered at the local nature and wildlife center and moonlighted at the nearby health food store. She had a collection of animals in our classroom, and she taught us how to take care of them. We had guppies, rats, salamanders, turtles, a pair of lovebirds, and various other temporary visitors from the nature center. The rats were a problem. The kids never got the genders 100% right, so rats were often returned to the wrong cages. Many litters happened. A lot of kids got to take pet rats home, and the local pet stores has a free supplier. I’m sure quite a few got to be snake, raptor and owl food at the nature center, too.

She introduced me to fried Indian bread at Thanksgiving time, along with other foods none of us had ever seen as our tradition, including quail. She introduced me to apples and carrots with peanut butter as a snack. Oh, and carob as a sort of chocolatey substitute that I liked so much I dragged my mom to the health food store to buy me some.

In springtime of my third grade year, at recess, the clover on the playground was blooming. While I was crawling around in the grass and clover looking for a four-leaf, I thought the little bunches with their little yellow flowers were quite pretty and picked a couple of them for my teacher. I proudly presented them to her after recess, thinking she might put them in her mug of water for the rest of the day. She exclaimed “Thank you so much!” and then popped them in her mouth. Apparently they were delicious.

I will never forget her.

Mr. Burrett, my sixth grade teacher. He handled a class of 37 students, demanded a book report every three weeks, and wanted us to call him “Sir.” It became a proper noun: “Ask Sir,” “Sir said he wants us to ____,” and “Talk to Sir; he knows what to do next.” It became so ingrained that I’ve called all my subsequent instructors “Sir” or “Ma’am” ever since.

Mr. Moody, eleventh grade history. Taught me a love of history. More importantly, he taught me about life in general. I had many coffees with Mr. Moody at the coffee shop on the corner (so did many high school students), and those sessions, where he discussed being a new Dad, home ownership and mortgages, and bill-paying, were memorable and useful.

Mrs. Joiner, twelfth grade English. She told me I could, and should, write. I ended up writing for a living, for over twenty years.

Professor Whalen, undergrad university. Four-foot-eleven, but a giant in my life. She taught me the Russian language, she taught me linguistics, and she taught me that I could do a lot better than I was doing. She told us (in Russian) how she escaped the USSR during WWII, and made her way to the UK. She was no quitter, neither was she to be taken lightly. She inspired me in so many ways. Dear “Susanna Ivanova,” you were instrumental in getting me to where I am today.

Professor Gall. My constitutional law professor at law school. He taught me how to get through law school; but equally as important, he taught me all about our constitution. His lessons resonate when I represent clients in the criminal courts, and in administrative matters. I cannot thank him enough.

I know that a few of you have passed away. Still, I thank you all for what you taught and gave me.

Mr. Mean (sp) who was actually a really nice guy. He taught history with an energy and an enthusiasm that made it fun. I remember him saying that he went to school with Billy Joel and that he knew the real Virginia Callahan growing up.
I still remember him winding up the whole class on the Friday before his class reunion. He was going to bring in an autograph and finally silence the guys in the back of the room who always said that they doubted him.

I’ll never forget how sad he looked that Monday morning because Billy had never showed…

I hit the submit button too fast. Sorry.

I always thought that if people knew just how hard he tried to teach, and if he was still teaching, that someday Billy Joel would have stopped by and said ‘hi’ to his class. Maybe, if he was in the mood, he might have even said…

“Hi, people. My name is Billy Joel. I’m going to guest-teach today’s class. For the next 90 minutes, we’re going to review 20th century history based on a song that I wrote called “We Didn’t Start The Fire”.
Ok, you on the left. Please say your name and then please tell the class who Harry Truman was and why he was important to America…”

Count Blucher reminded me of Mr. Means, not actually a teacher but a grade school psychologist who meant a lot to me. Nice guy who drove a cool car ('76 Trans Am, red).