I wrote this post last fall when Celie started kindergarten, but it never made its way to the blog. It's as relevant now as it was 12 months ago. And now I am Facebook friends with the teacher I speak of, so maybe she will see this post and get an unexpected warm and fuzzy in her heart today!
Teaching. There’s an occupation I could never do. Being a teacher is hard. They are expected to deal with children the parents can’t (or won’t) discipline, mold the little mutants into scholars, spend their own sad wages to accomplish it, and be happy about it. They are superheroes with dry erase markers instead of capes. Few people in life can influence a child like a teacher. I had my fair share of poor ones, but I also had some great ones. Teachers who truly wanted me to succeed in life and tried desperately to throw noodles of knowledge at my head, hoping something would stick.
One such teacher sticks with me to this day. Her name is Mrs. Sandifer, and she taught me high school English. I went to a school the size of a thumbtack , so Mrs. Sandifer was my English teacher for my entire high school career. Mrs. Sandifer was not the coolest of teachers. I venture to guess she did not receive a plethora of love notes from students, and she wasn’t about to let you spend her 50 minutes of class time doodling or discussing last week’s football game. Mrs. Sandifer had a serious love of the English language and an equally serious desire to burn that love into the hearts of her students. The problem? We could’ve cared less. It was only after I left those hallowed halls that I appreciated her efforts.
Upon entering college, I magically knew how to compose a resume, address a letter, and properly encase it all in an envelope. I was able to communicate with others via written word and make myself understood. I knew the difference between weather and whether and their and there. Have these seemingly small knowledge bits helped me as an adult? I solidly believe they have. As far as I know, I have never been judged an idiot because I cannot eloquently compose a sentence. I’ve been judged an idiot for a myriad of other things, but that’s a topic for another day.
I am often asked to preview and review communication at my job, because “you know big words”. I’m not kidding. That’s actually been presented to me as praise. I cannot begin to know what doors have been pushed slightly ajar for me, simply because I used correct syntax. If it weren’t for Mrs. Sandifer, I might not cringe when I see misspellings and other grammatical horrors than run rampant today. Oh, the horrors out there. It’s a buffet of dreadfulness, I tell you.
I’ve only seen Mrs. Sandifer twice since leaving my hometown, but I took both as opportunities to express my gratitude. I know she is unappreciated. Most teachers are. But, I hope on those two nights she lay down knowing she’d made a difference in the life of one kid. And that kid is much obliged.
Is this blog post (or any of the others I’ve written) always grammatically correct? Doubtful (see, incomplete sentence). But, in a world where the English language is mutilated with reckless abandon, I know there are Mrs. Sandifer’s out there fighting the good fight. Maybe their fight is with math or science, but they push forward and squeeze whatever knowledge they can into their pupils’ brains hoping a couple of noodles will stick.
Two questions for you (technically, three):
1) What teacher has influenced your life? Have you thanked them?
2) What English atrocities drive you nuts? Because I just want to know!
The bridge I crossed to and from school for 13 years.
He also told them this parable: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." - Luke 6:39-41