by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
With schools closed now for over two months and parents now part of home schooling, there are so many thoughts about what it is like to be a teacher. Some districts have offered online courses where teachers continue their instructions via the internet. Surely this does not replicate in person lessons. Many decades have passed since my school days, yet there are so many teachers in my life that have left an indelible mark on me. From grade school on, when I glance at my old report cards and see their names, a fond memory of that teacher brings a smile to my face.
Our first grade teacher always came up with little hints to help us remember how to spell a word. Of course the “I before e, except after c” was the common one everybody knew. Certain words, known as “spelling demons” because they were ones students frequently misspelled, needed a memory booster. How can we remember which word has only one “s” and which has two, when writing desert or dessert? She told us, just think of which one would you want TWO of and the answer would be dessert. So that’s the one that would require a double s. Moving on up to our 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Paoletta, she had an interesting start to her classes as she entered the room to greet us. If the class was quiet and seemingly not paying attention when she entered, her booming voice greeted us with “Wake up and LIVE!” as her call to be part of the exciting lesson and information we were about to hear. Not said in a mean way, but an invigorating and encouraging start to the class. Her teaching methods also involved us memorizing everything by rote to insure retaining information. When it came to states and capitals or the names of United States presidents in order, rote memory was the key. To this date when I’m talking with two childhood school mates we often discuss “back in the day” and almost automatically start to see how much of our presidents in order we recall. Still there, as we rattle off the names that were ingrained in us at age eleven! Naturally, long after graduation we added on the names of the newest elected Presidents. Fast forward to high school and we are sitting in our freshman year music class on the first day. The music teacher begins to discuss the syllabus and tells us we “will be studying opera” in class. A slight exhaling and soft moan could be heard from the class at the mere word “opera”. Few weeks into the course and our music teacher started her introduction to the story of Aida before she played the album for us. The way she told this love story by Giuseppe Verde, set in Ancient Egypt had the class spellbound. She wove the tale in such a way that when the music was played and the Italian lyrics sung, we could hear the passion and pain as the story flowed just as she described.
All through our years of schooling, we take away something positive from each teacher that has passed through our lives. Right now many students have to supplement between school courses online and things they are learning from their parents, filling in the gaps. So as the school year winds down soon, think of what impact your child’s teacher may have had this school year, even under these unusual circumstances. Hopefully your student’s world included an expanded knowledge and excitement for learning! A quote by Benjamin Franklin sums up nicely the benefits of a well rounded and continued path of learning. “The only thing that is more expensive than education is ignorance.”