Friday, January 22, 2010

Inspirational Teacher

My grade school classmates have had me on their mailing list for a while. Most of the members are like me - silent receivers of communication who rarely if ever have anything to say to the group. An active but vocal minority have kept this list going for as long as they have.

Recently, one guy K commented in reference to an on going conversation about how much they owe to that one teacher who made the most lasting impression. In his case it was Mrs. P (who would have guessed). He wrote "If she had not kept nagging at me for my sloppy grammar and spelling I would never be where I am today".

When we were in our early teens, I remember K making remarks about Mrs. P that were decidedly tasteless. She was tall and slim ; wore silk or chiffon saris that flattered her shape but in a dignified way. Her makeup was always understated as was her perfume. Mrs. P was one of my style icons growing up and I hated it when K and his buddies said the things they did about her. Apparently with age, K has had a change of heart and attitude.

In her essay Teachers Are Key to a Successful Economy, Michelle Obama writes :

"We all remember the impact a special teacher had on us—a teacher who refused to let us fall through the cracks; who pushed us and believed in us when we doubted ourselves; who sparked in us a lifelong curiosity and passion for learning. Decades later, we remember the way they made us feel and the things they inspired us to do—how they challenged us and changed our lives"

That is certainly true for both K and I,even if in very different ways. Decades later, K has realized that Mrs. P was indeed special and a very positive influence on his life. Mrs. P was not the best or the most influential teacher I have had, but there is a lot I learned from her example about being a feminine, confident and attractive without sacrificing dignity. That is an important lesson for any young girl and determines the choices she will make as a woman. Learning that was no less important than learning to construct readable sentences.

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