I find myself strolling down memory lane frequently of late and am wondering if you can name your elementary school teachers… I attended Brookdale Avenue School in Verona, NJ and I think I have a pretty good handle on this task.
Kindergarten: Mrs. Garrabrant
First: Miss Dobbins who became Mrs. Thomas
Second: Miss Davis
Third: Miss Nelson who became Mrs. Schenk (I recall her being a very pretty lady with a page boy hairdo)
Fourth: Miss Cunningham. She had red hair.
Fifth: Mrs. Babb (I think that was the name, unrelated to Herb Babb who I knew in Jr. High). She is the one who I give credit for curbing my temper…
Sixth: Mrs. O’Gara. She really challenged us.
There are a number of Junior High teachers I recall – and yes, it was Junior High, Middle School not yet having been invented during the dark ages in which I grew up! Mr. Morris in math who had a habit of throwing chalk board erasers at anyone who was not paying attention…a cloud of dust! Mr. Wald also in math who had us vying all the time to move out of group B into group A. Mr. Iuso was our fun-loving Guidance Counselor.
On into high school at Verona High I remember Mr. Wermuth in geometry who would not coddle us…”were you born with a silver spoon in your mouth?” he would ask. (He also had a handsome son – older than I – who was the star quarterback on our football team. Ah youth.) Mr. Axel Johnson in chemistry – if you remember the name, you remember him! Mrs. Chase (who started as Miss [something]) teaching English; she pushed, pushed, pushed me in writing. I also remember Ira [Nelson?] (cannot be certain about the last name), a young guy who taught physics which was so much not my subject! Oh yes, and there was Mrs. Adams who taught French – and had a habit (at least in my memory and in our youthful observation) of wearing the same thing days on end…or perhaps she simply had different versions of the same outfit. There was a fellow in my French class with me who was a year younger – I remember that together we were awful to her!! God forgive me. And there was Mr. Neff who taught Latin, a small framed man who always seemed to be pulling his pants up by the waist. I wonder if he needed a smaller belt….
I make light here and there but the truth is that I did have good teachers. Some clearly were better than others, but I suspect that’s true of accountants and sales people, and …. as well. Growing up today is fraught with so many more distractions for the children than when I grew up; and teaching is filled with so much more in the way of responsibility and administrative requirements than when I was in school. So take a moment in the next days – and even through the year – to think about and give thanks for those who feel called to teach, and to ask protection, health, and right decisions for the kiddos.