Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Teacher Who Made a Difference

At the beginning of this school year, humorist Dave Barry wrote a moving tribute to a beloved former teacher who had just passed away; it was chronicled here in this blog.

And now, nearing the end of the school year, my other favorite blogging humorist, James Lileks, fondly remembers a teacher of his own who recently passed on. (If the previous link doesn't work--because his column, The Bleat is on a few days' vacation--try this.) Here's an excerpt:
To the callow student who drew her for English, she must have seemed like a bemused bird of prey; to those of us who had her for a coach, she was the ultimate authority on the superficial aspects of our craft. How to stand. How to walk. How to gesture. She was also the one who tore apart our arguments and built them back up, taught us to construct a thesis, rebut on the fly and think on our feet, act like junior Barrymores, deliver a humorous speech or a tearjerking monologue, then head over to the Extemporaneous Speaking round and whip a defense of Israel or the 55-MPH speed limit out of our own heads in 15 minutes. She had a sense of sarcasm sharp enough to shave granite in micrometer-thin slices. When you got one of her exfoliating critiques you felt it down to the bone, and when she reacted to your humorous speech with her dry smoker’s cackle – the tenth time she’d heard it! – you were on top of the world. She treated us all like grown-ups who’d unaccountably ended up in high school, but she wasn't our peer and she wasn't our pal; if we doubted her authority, it took one arched eyebrow to bat us back into place. She expected victory and she got it. She loved us and we loved her. She was the most important teacher of my life.
As I said in September, in response to the Barry column, most of us in education consider "you made a difference" to be the greatest compliment we can be given; that's why we do what we do. (Again, it's not for the money. Heh.)

Teacher Appreciation Week may have been last week, but we can certainly accept a belated (and Bleated) tribute of this nature. And if you missed last week, be sure and let a beloved former teacher know how much they mean to you; it'll make their day/week/year.

Students in the news, part 1: A UNT freshman was elected to the Bedford City Council by a landslide. (The final days of his political campaign coincided with his final exams last week, and both went well.)

Students in the news, part 2: And up north, a University of Oklahoma freshman was elected mayor of Muskogee this week.

Students in the news, part 3: Give it up for Moshe Kai Cavalin, 10-year-old college sophomore who's tutoring his older peers.

No comments: