Wednesday, May 7, 2014

thank a teacher

I was blessed throughout my school years with some absolutely amazing teachers. People who took the time to mold my little hyperactive mind into one that could focus and learn when I was younger and provided me great constructive criticism or advice when I was older. However, some of my wonderful educators stick out above the rest, so when's a better time to write about them than during Teacher Appreciation Week?

My second grade teacher, Mrs. Pat Calfee was the teacher that inspired my love for reading and writing. Despite second grade being so long ago, I can remember discovering how much I loved creating new worlds and putting my jumble of thoughts onto paper instead of swirling around in my head. I truly started to understand why reading was important and how it affected my writing.  Side note, I won "Best Speller" in second grade (and also "Most Fashionable Girl"). I have never been so proud as when Mrs. Calfee found my blog and commented on it! Mrs. Calfee is still inspiring children through her line of children's books called "Issy Books" that her granddaughter Issy illustrates, you can check them out here.

That very next year I had another great teacher in the third grade, Ms. Joyce Stokes. Ms. Stokes wasn't just a teacher to me, she was a counselor. When my friend Katheryn and I got into a big fight (like most third grade girls do), Ms. Stokes wasted no time in pulling us aside to make us apologize to each other. I will never forget her trying to make us laugh together by saying, "Y'all can't be mad at each other, both of your mamas play the 'pinano'." She also saw potential in me when I could not sit still in class. Instead of informing my parents that I needed medication or to be treated for ADHD, she told them to buy me a squishy stress ball that I could hold during class and focus my energy on when I felt like moving all about. I am so lucky that Ms. Stokes still lives in my hometown and I get to see her often at my mom's drugstore, she was also sweet enough to come to my wedding and baby showers.

Fast forward to sixth grade, I had Mrs. Ary Pritchard. Now, let me just tell you that Mrs. Pritchard was legendary at South Edgecombe Middle School. She was an almost 6 foot-tall, fierce-looking lady and feisty to say the least. I was terrified when I first walked in that classroom, and even more scared when I was saw her take a string and tie a male students pants up high around his waist so he would quit sagging and showing his underwear. But she taught me so much. I learned that you don't have to be soft-spoken and super sweet to be kind and that respect is earned, not given. Mrs. Pritchard also taught me to appreciate my height, which was something I big time struggled with as all my friends were petite little things while I was already taller than most of the boys in my class.

In the ninth grade I transferred to a new school 30 minutes from home. It was a big change for me, going into high school and transitioning from a big public school with over 140 kids in my grade to a small private school with only about 50 students in the whole upper school. But, in my new environment I found my love for Spanish with my teacher Miss Laura Robl. We watched a cringe-worthy Spanish soap opera called "Destinos" and I loved every minute of it. I loved Spanish so much that I went on to choose it as a minor for my first three years of college. Miss Robl taught me a new way of studying called the "chunking" method where you keep a stack of flash cards on you at all times to pull out and study whenever you get a moment. I used that idea throughout my college years.

In college, I once again made a big move transferring from UNC-Wilmington after my freshman year to East Carolina. While I had started out as a marketing major with a Spanish minor, I transitioned into an English major with a communications minor since I had basically no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Then I took a Intro to Fiction Writing with Dr. Bill Hallberg and Writing for the Electronic Mass Media with Dr. Laura Mixon and I knew that whatever I did with my degree, I wanted to write. Dr. Hallberg taught me so much about my own writing style and through his process of having each of his students read each other's papers, I learned how to not only give constructive criticism but take it as well.  Dr. Mixon taught me how to use those skills and creative juices to write for the media in various formats and that there are actual jobs that would allow me to utilize what I'd learned.

I know that teachers are in the news constantly as the general assembly and politicians spend a lot of time discussing salaries and ways to better teach today's children, but know that no matter what the government tells them about their jobs teachers are some of the most passionate people you will ever meet. So to all my friends who teach, thank you. Thank you for the long nights of grading papers, writing lesson plans, completing assessments and worrying about "your" kids. Thank you for suffering through endless professional development conference and meetings. Thank for you continuing to do an amazing job educating our future leaders even when your curriculum gets changed every year and you get told that you are going to be evaluated by the success of your students (even when you can't control how their home life affects their school performance). Thank you, thank you, thank you.
A very special thank you to Mrs. Calfee, Ms. Stokes, Mrs. Pritchard, Miss Robl, Dr. Hallberg and Dr. Mixon, because without you I truly have no idea where I'd be today.


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  2. This is super sweet. I had so many teachers I loved over the years. It's amazing how they can make you feel so special even though they teach SO many kids over the years.