Sunday, August 01, 2010

Profiles in Greatness Ep. 1

When the curtain closes on my teaching career, I only hope that more students than not will remember me as effective in teaching my content and treating them respectfully. Who can say whether anyone of any intelligence will consider me great or that I was any better than average. Realizing today that the year begins in less than a month had me thinking about teachers and the how many of mine are worth remembering at all. I assume that I've had roughly 100 teachers or professors in my education career; the following series of posts will honor the ones that mattered.

Ms. Stack (First Grade)
If literature is meant to affect the reader on a deeply personal level as I hope to convince my English classes each year, then Ms. Stack was the one who set me down that path. My greatest fear that year was my certainity that Ms. Stack would turn into Ms. Viola Swamp at any moment. That fictional substitute teacher had a knack for instilling discipline and learning into the classroom. Ms. Stack could have put Ms. Viola Swamp to shame.
I've never quite mastered the self-control that Ms. Stack demanded of me. In the age before ADHD, when little boys had to learn to control themselves or else, Ms. Stack guided me gently towards maintaining focus. She demanded excellence but never belittled when I didn't reach it. She had a motherly nature which was never allowed to take complete control. She understood that too much self-esteem building, which she did plenty of, should never over-shadow a committment to greatness.
When I tried to escape my work by feigning illness, Ms. Stack never bit. I still recall the time she projected down the hallway, "Andy McNamar, you are not sick. Get back into this classroom." I had nearly made my escape with my mother, a softy who was also our school's "recess lady."
In the 26 years since I finished first grade, I have dedicated myself to always being at school or work. At one point, I went six school years in which I missed just one day of school--my great-grandfather's funeral.
Thank you Ms. Stack, for teaching me to demand excellence from my own students. Thank you for instilling a sense of confidence without blinding me from my weaknesses. For that, you are a great teacher.


At 6:25 AM , Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

What a wonderful tribute! And what an inspiring thing to contemplate-- the teachers that have touched our lives-- as we prepare to go back into the trenches to fight the good fight!

At 9:10 AM , Anonymous Keith said...

Mrs. Stack was a great teacher, no doubt. When Jacob went to first grade and I met his teacher for the first time, my immediate thought was that she reminded me of Mrs. Stack - kind, but stern at the same time, possessing an unfailing sense of the potential of each child, and the work ethic to do her best to bring it out of them.

At 2:40 PM , Blogger Joep said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I sincerely hope that some time a student of mine will honour me with such a blog.I am not too sure about that.


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