Friday, August 06, 2010

Profiles in Greatness Ep. 4

At least my older brother is reading my list. I know this because he texted me today urging me to hurry up with the next episode.
As I mentioned earlier, there isn't much from middle school that I remember. However, one event, which is tied to my high school career, replays itself anytime someone asks how I came to grasp the Spanish language so well.
A Spanish teacher had come to our middle school Spanish class to encourage us to continue with the language in high school. In my ignorance, I expressed my desire to take Spanish from Senor Capobianco who had taught my brother during his freshmen and sophomore year.
Months later, that day long forgotten, I waited for Senora Mosely to call my name. "Andrew McNamar?" she asked before looking up.
"Well, Senor McNamar, it looks like you didn't get your wish," she replied dryly. I shrunk in my chair as it dawned on me who that visitor was moths ago.
Senora Mosely was never my favorite teacher, never even in the conversation. Yet, here I am teaching in a district with a vast number of Spanish speaking students and able to communicate with them or at least not butcher names like Yaritza or Dionisio. Senora Mosely taught much more than language, she taught culture and its significance. I can recall her genuine interest in my high school missions trip to Spain--making me present to the class my experiences there.
Senora Mosely taught language as it should be, through experiencing the language not as ink on paper to be memorized, but as a living and breathing entity with nuance. She demanded precision, and I rose to every challenge. In that way, she knew how to motivate me.
I couldn't lose to her. On that first day, she threw down the challenge. Would I shrink or rise? I rose. Right up until it came time to sign up for the next year. I begged my counselor to move me into Senor Capobianco's class because Ms. Mosely had it out for me. I am convinced that during the summers before my sophomore year, and againg before junior and senior year, she forced him to change me back into her class. Each year became a duel in my mind.
I complained bitterly each year. She was demanding, almost cruel to me in the way she wouldn't let me off easily or forced me to help the less proficient. But now I recognize what was really happening. Senor Mosely, knowingly or not, was making me better, more precise in my own understanding. I know now that only those who truly understand a concept can teach it. She was making me do that on a regular basis.
Y por eso, Senora Mosely, gracias. Muchos de mi estudiantes aprecian los resultados de su instruccion. (And 15 years later I only had to look up "appreciate" in the Spanish dictionary!)


At 8:24 AM , Blogger Joep said...

Not only your older brother is reading your hall of fame, I am a fan as well.
Teh story about Senora Mosely trigger a new post of mine, about language learning. You may be interested:


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