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  • January 20th, 2009 | 10:45 PM
tuesday memory challenge

No, I didn't forget.

Today's memory challenge is inspired by the fact that I have recently made contact with one of my favorite teachers from high school, Mr. Foster. I had him for several years when I was at Mt. Diablo High School. He was one of 4 English/Creative Writing teachers that had an impact on me. And since he was the last one I had in high school, I guess it was up to him to finish what the other three started. And he did.

So this week I am going to see what I remember about teachers. Not everyone I ever had but those that made an impression on me.

Elementary School was Williams Elementary, close enough to walk or ride my bike once I was old enough.

Mrs. Keller, my German kindergarten teacher who spoke German to us right along with English and instilled an early love of that language. she was big, and round and could 4 kids at once so no one ever felt left out.

Mrs. Oswald, my second grade teacher who embarrassed me with the mouse incident.

I'm not sure what grade but I think it was Mrs. McMullen's class where I brought the starfish in for show and tell and it dried out and stunk up the whole class. Everyone made fun of me but she came up with some science lesson around it and helped me save face.

The 6th grade teacher when I was in 4th grade who might have really known my dad but I was too afraid to admit we were related.

Mr. Nisonger, my 6th grade teacher. I think half the girls had crushes on him but I remember him most because he talked me into going out for the girl's softball team and I loved it.

7th and 8th grade was Glenbrook Middle school.

Mr. Friss was the German teacher who also was the backup organist at the church we didn't go to regularly anymore. He also taught calligraphy class but I was never allowed to take it. It wasn't "practical" enough for my mom.

Mrs. Hackett and Mrs. Welch were both at that school and they really got me interested in writing, made me editor of the school paper, and encouraged my talent and love of working with words.

High school was Mt. Diablo for 9th, 11th and 12th grade and Ygnacio Valley for 10th grade. For the dumbest of all possible reasons and because my mom had moved us out of my grandmother's house for a year and we lived on the border, I switched high schools for a year because of the boy I was dating. Big mistake because when I came back to Mt. Diablo everyone thought I had left because I was pregnant. (Times were different back then.) 

I don't remember many teachers from 9th grade except for Mrs. Armstrong, the gym teacher who was also the track coach and who helped me fall in love with running. She even let me try hurdles though I was way too short to be any good at it. I was fast though for the sprints though I never did beat Susan Hewlett. Oh, and there was Mr. Macomber, the English teacher, who had us write a biography of our lives up until that point and who wrote on the very last page of mine that I should ask my mom about taking me to see a shrink. I still have that and when I reread it, I can't see what he saw in there to give him that idea.

In 10th grade at Ygnacio there was Mr. Gisch, the math teacher, who told me I better get really good at something else because I was really no good at math at all. There was Mr. Ashlock, the science teacher, who let us do really off the wall science projects like sing songs about pollution. And there was Mr. Sillonis, the creative writing teacher who made us grade ourselves, who sat in the sink in the portable classroom and encouraged us to bring things from our other worlds to share in class. I brought my skates to class and he moved all the desks so I could do a demonstration. He was big on writing what we knew but it was many years before I ever got that message.

Back at Mt. Diablo there weren't that many teachers that I can remember for 11th or 12th grade. Only Mr. Foster stands out in my mind. I took as many creative writing classes as I was allowed, always anxious to see what unusual writing exercises he would come up with for us. He challenged us to look at simple things and describe them in unusual ways. He pushed us to take chances with our words. And he encouraged me to write as much as I possibly could because the more I wrote, the better my writing would become. I still have some of my handwritten pages from his class and when I look at them, I am instantly transported back in time, sitting in that awkward, too small desk, staring at the pictures he flashed up on the wall while trying to think of how to describe a lemon if I didn't already know it was a lemon.

Your turn.

What teachers from childhood stand out in your mind?

There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 2 comments — Leave comment )
January 21st, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
I remember lots of teachers, but it was my second grade teacher, Mrs. Cohen, who told me that I was going to be a famous poet or author some day. 30 years later, when Hop! Plop! got published, I sent her the first signed copy!
January 21st, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)
tuesday memory challenge, teachers
I remember all of my elementary/junior high teachers, but most shall remain nameless. They were nuns and I never once saw them eat or excuse themselves for a bathroom break or for that matter, smile. They were Sisters of Mercy though they had little of it. Many were direct from Ireland with brogues lovely to listen to when they weren't reminding us we were sinners and would surely no doubt go to hell unless we talked less in class and got 100% on our Math work, may Jesus save your pitiful souls. Jury is out on me going directly to hell...might happen yet, but Math is still a stumbling block for me. I never once remember any encouraging words from any of them, but I did learn one vital thing: how to be a better teacher. That kids don't have to be beaten into obedience or have knowledge crammed down their throats. And I did do that for almost 30 yr. I loved teaching. So thank you, Sisters. So there ya go, Linda
( 2 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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