Ha ha! That’s all I have to say about this comment. It was made after I explained the new policy that I implemented, dealing with electronic device use in my class. I laugh because I know that I am certainly NOT the “best teacher ever” but I certainly do not mind being labeled as such! It caused me to pause because I wondered what it would mean to be “the best teacher ever”. And in my mind I saw many teachers that I have had and I decided to share some of the best teachers I ever had.
- Dallas Webb-Burton: My third grade Advanced Academic Placement (AAP) math and reading teacher. A few stories stick out with this teacher. One is when she read Roald Dahl’s, Matilda. She read with passion and humor. Also, in math, we had a day where we brought in our favorite drink and practiced measuring different amount (e.g. how many ounces are in a pound, 16, how many pints are in a quart, 2, how many millilitres are in a liter, 1000…) But most of all I remember the following song about words that stand for “to be” – “Am, is, are, has, have, had, be, being, been, if you learn these words for the test, you’ll make an A my friiiiend! to which our classmate, Jason replaced the last line to say, “you’ll have a girlfriiiiend!” Priceless! Twenty years later and I still remember the song!
- Mrs. McLaughlin, Hopkins Middle: My 8th grade South Carolina History teacher. She really believed in seeing the places that we were reading about and took a group on the “13 Colonies” field trip. We toured New York City, Boston, a tiny bit of Maine, Baltimore, and a few others. She made history come alive for us and seem applicable as we set our eyes on the USS Constitution, which was restored with wood recovered from the disaster of hurricane Hugo (a very real memory for many of us). Her passion for our common South Carolina history opened our eyes to the value of knowing “from whence we came” so that we would not repeat the mistakes of the past and would build on the successes.
- Christine Kiernan, dance teacher: This teacher, in a way, taught me everything that I know. She made high school manageable for me. She helped me to cope with hard times, and hard people. She showed me that teachers are real people who can, and many time do, care about the whole student. I shared my thoughts and hopes and dreams with this teacher, and in the end, without planning it, I followed in her footsteps. To me, this is a great testament to the education that she provided. I am, now, able to look back and wonder what she must have experienced in our school, as an artist and teacher, and what impact that had on her. I know that I am eternally grateful for the doors that her rigorous curriculum opened for me when I decided to re-enter the dance world a the ripe old age of 22.
There have been MANY more amazing teachers, like Angie Greene and Melinda Waegerle, over the last 5 years. They have built me up, torn me down, and put me back together while I struggled to find out what kind of teacher I would become. I know I often deal in black and white, and seem to have inherent confidence in my practice, but the fact is that I often question myself, and my teaching. If it weren’t for the questioning mentors that I have had, I would have certainly failed. I hope that at least a teeeeeny-tiiiiiiny particle of my great training transfers to my students. It’s not so that I can make their list of great teachers, but more so to maintain the integrity of the great teachers that I try to emulate.