For the Love of a Teacher


I received the latest edition of my Alumni Magazine from Iowa State last week, and the cover story was about teaching. Inside, there was an article about a day in the life of an Assistant Professor, followed by several blurbs from former ISU students talking about professors that inspired them in their career path and life in general. This got me thinking about my elementary years, because I loved all of my teachers then, and they all made a difference in my life in some big or small way.

My kindergarten teacher was Miss Greer. We were her first class ever, so she was probably 22 years old and fresh out of college. I thought she was pretty, and one day Sonya Ott and I decided we would open a "hair salon" during in-class playtime. We sheepishly asked Miss Greer if we could apply some "make-up" and she said yes! I also fashioned a beautiful necklace for her out of the yarn and beads kept in the play area. She wore it all day long. I was so proud. Over Christmas break Miss Greer got married and became Mrs. Shook. We practiced saying "Good Morning, Mrs. Shook" around the sharing circle the first morning we came back from break. I said "Miss Greer" by mistake (as did lots of others). I was crushed that I got her name wrong. Years later I babysat for her children, Allison and Robin.

Mrs. Hardy was my first grade teacher. She had been a teacher a long time by the time my class arrived. I loved her, too. She was pretty and sweet and laughed a lot. She let me read to the class and taught us how to tell time and tie our shoes.

Mrs. Schmidt was my second grade teacher and, quite frankly, I was a little scared of her. She was a tiny lady that packed a big punch. She was very no-nonsense and by-the-book. The only consolation was that the other choice of second grade teachers was.... (cue horror movie music)..... Miss Murphy. My mom had some issues with her that went way back and, as far as I was concerned, she was the Wicked Witch. She did, after all, own a black cat that she brought to school sometimes.

**As a side note, this is a good time to say that I went to a very small school. I graduated with a class of 36. Most of us were together from Kindergarten through high school. My mom was always very vocal with the school administration about who we wanted for teachers, and our wishes were always granted.**

In third grade I had Mrs. Harken. She played kick ball with us during recess and never made me wear a hat when it was cold outside. She did an activity with us one day during which she tried to convince us that a nickle was bigger in size than a quarter. Most everyone was persuaded. I was not. At the end of the day she taught us about logic and self-confidence. She told us that there would be lots of people in our lives trying to convince us to believe things that were not true and that we needed to believe in ourselves.

Mrs. Holtz was my fourth grade teacher. She read to us after lunch nearly every day. She liked cowboy and Indian stories, and also the Ramona Quimby series. She was really skinny and I learned her first name was Rosina. I thought that name fit her well. Her husband was my band teacher. He was the one that convinced me to play the alto saxophone. Mrs. Holtz let me stay in from recess a lot and grade papers. She bought me a stick-pin (an accessory that was very hot in the late 70's) with a gold heart on it for Valentine's Day. She also taught me that trees in real life to not look like a brown trunk with a green cloud on top. "Draw leaves", she'd say.

In fifth grade I had Mrs. Kittleson. She nurtured my love of reading and writing. She helped me understand long division and told me that it was hard for her, even at her age. She collected dolls, which sort of creeped me out. Years later I babysat her grandchildren sometimes.

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Menken, was great! She was so positive and encouraging that I just loved being around her. She had the neatest (cursive) handwriting I'd ever seen. I made it my goal that year to not miss any questions in my reading workbook. I didn't pull it off. I did win first place in an Iowa poetry contest that year. My poem was entitled "The Future". The last line of the poem was: "The future is like a closed door, waiting to be opened."

I will close by sending this as a special dedication to my brother and sweet sister-in-law in Iowa, who are in their 20th year of teaching. My brother teaches art and my sister-in-law, Remedial Reading. Their jobs are hard, important and often thankless. I am sure they have touched many students in many ways. I am very thankful for them and for the wonderful job they do each and every day.


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