Monday, August 31, 2015

A Note to Teacher

Since school is back in session just about everywhere, I wanted to take the time to thank all teachers who I believe are our most faithful and underappreciated professionals. Every single day they perform a job I could never do because my patience level is about an inch long, but they do it without batting an eye because they are passionate about our kids. Sure there are bad teachers, just like there are bad doctors, bad cops, and bad people in general, but most of them chose teaching to prepare the next generation for that big ol' world out there. And, I hope teachers everywhere realize the impact they have on their students.

I was thinking back to some of my own teachers back in the "olden days" and how what they said made such an impression on me. Back in those days your teachers were the next thing to God in your life because your parents were simply not involved in school. What your teacher said became the gospel!

So, when my second grade teacher told my parents, "Debbie doesn't play well with others", my iron fisted Daddy said, "God Dammit Deb you better straighten the Hell out". Yea, I knew I was different since I was a little girl, and blamed a lot of it on being an only child. I tried really hard to fit in, mostly because I didn't want my Dad to kick me in the ass, which is truly what would have happened if I got another bad report from my teacher. Today, that quote, "Deb doesn't play well with others" has become quite the running joke among my family and friends when somethin' bugs the livin' shit outta me and I go off on one of my tirades.

Then when I was in sixth grade, my teacher caught me in a lie and had me stay inside for recess to read as a punishment. I told her that was fine with me and maybe I would start a reading club. She spoke to my parents about how "strange" she thought my reaction was because basically nobody wants to be in a reading club. Hah, guess I was ahead of the curve on the poplar book club craze today huh?

Now imagine my surprise when I got to high school and was placed in Mr. Spanogle's English class, once in 9th grade I think, (I can't really remember because I'm getting senile) and again my senior year. He not only liked my weirdness, he actually embraced and encouraged it. One day he commented that he would like to get inside my brain because he thought there were some really neat ideas in there. He may have even used the word "groovy". When every student had to recite Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee" poem in front of the class, I asked if I could put a comic twist on it like that classic Brady Bunch episode where Mr. Brady performs a dramatic reading, and Peter and Bobby throw feathers, a funky chicken and pour water on him. Although Mr. Spanogle said my request was not appropriate for the assignment, he appreciated me thinking outside the box, and told me to be proud of my unique spirit and to not always follow the crowd.

Mr. Spanogle passed away recently, and it really hit me hard because I carried his wise words of advice with me throughout my life. Without a doubt, the biggest successes in my life, and the moments I have been most proud of myself have been when I went rogue and did not follow the crowd.  Thank you Mr. Spanogle for not only believing in me, but more importantly, for making me believe in me!

26 comments:

  1. All it takes is one teacher, one person, to change our lives. Sounds like Mr. Spanogle was quite the character.
    And I have about as much patience with kids as you do.

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    1. You are so right. One person can really make a huge difference in our life.

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  2. Mr. Spanogle sounds like my kind of teacher! It also sounds like he was the type to think outside the box. How wonderful that you crossed paths with him during your teens.

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    1. He was definitely the most colorful teacher I ever had, which is why we connected.

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  3. Thank GOD for teachers like Mr Spanogle who actually listened and appreciated the kids. I know some teachers out there that don't even like kids but they just like the summers off. I had a few good teachers myself that helped make a difference in my life.

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    1. Boo to the teachers who don't like the kids. They should get their hands slapped with a ruler.

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  4. I wouldn't go off on the kids, but I'd back talk and say something probably parents wouldn't like them to repeat. haha

    There are some great teachers out there indeed and it is getting harder and harder for them will all the dumb restraints they have now and low funding.

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    1. Oh man, parents would have me fired in one day with my colorful language.

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  5. There are few teachers I remember but the ones I do really made a difference

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    1. I think the only ones we remember are the ones who were bat shit crazy or the ones who made an impact on us.

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  6. I think we all had that one teacher that made the difference. We sure did - the one that didn't think us writing stories in our free time was just nonsense and encouraged us to be weird writers.

    Cheers to Mr. Spanogle.

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    1. And look at you guys now cranking out those books like rock stars!

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  7. I'm with you, girlfriend. I was thinking yesterday about some of my special teachers in the past. They were so genuinely caring and invested in being a mentor - above and beyond teaching academics. I really appreciate your post. It's touching.

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    1. Every now and then I can be sappy, but don't spread it around. I don't want to ruin my reputation.

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  8. It's awesome to have a teacher like that. I had one of my own. His greatest lesson to me: Question everything.
    And I have.

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  9. Everyone should have a Mr. Spanogle in their life.

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  10. My old elem. school principal recognized me the other month after many years. He told me "of course I remember you, you were a good student"

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    1. Oh wow, now that's cool. You must have made quite an impression.

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  11. those were the good old days when teachers were gods..... not that they were ever paid as gods... but stilll... I still get PROFESSAH, PROFESSAH... thrown at me by ex students even though I stopped teaching ten years ago :)

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  12. Where I stay, there are 40 students in one class. And, half the time they check the notebooks blindly. I mean the spellings the punctuation. But, not all are like that.
    In fact, I just got a call from one of my twins class teacher, that tomorrow is a test and did he inform you.
    So, they do take care of our kids and we need to say thanks to them.
    In India, 5th September is celebrated as teachers day!

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  13. Teachers really do leave a lasting impression on us. They are a huge part in shaping who we are today!

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  14. Interesting... I've been thinking back on my teachers, but I can't remember them all (I wonder if I left a bigger impression on them?)

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  15. Teachers are so powerful, because they really change people's lifes!

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