Through the magic that is Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with teachers from elementary and high school. Via email, I have also reconnected with my favorite college professor. The Wednesday after Labor Day was always the first day of school for me. Overtime this has shifted for students but I always have a fond memory of the day. It was a time of new notebooks, fresh pencils and a mind eager to learn new material.
Teachers are the mortar of society. A good teacher helps to bind knowledge within us. Excellent teachers allow us to ask “why?” and then allow us to think through to our own conclusion(s). When we veer off the path a good teacher will guide us back and orientate us in the right direction. In a society that is becoming more sensitive and so focused on being politically correct, teachers must walk on egg shells. Intellectuals must dip around everyones political and religious beliefs. Our society has forgotten that differences of opinion are okay and something to respect.
During my youth and early adulthood, I was fortunate to have a number of intelligent teachers. Teachers who some had the same beliefs as my parents but others who saw the world differently. These teachers especially those with different beliefs opened up the world and intellectual thought as well as conversations at home. There are four teachers who stand above the rest, those who pulled the best from their students. My 4th grade teacher is by far my favorite teacher. And in part learning of her death almost two years ago is what started my quest of finding my favorite teachers. My 4th grade teacher is whom taught me about the art of poetry and ignited that passion, so she will always be near and dear to my heart.
It is very difficult to whittle down who were my favorite teachers in high school. I learned a great deal from all my teachers. There are a few that stand out as least favorite but even they taught me something. Through gritted teeth and determination I passed Trigonometry and Physics both taken in Junior year. And I still was successful at my goal of induction into the National Honor Society. But I digress, let me focus on the favorite teachers who also pushed and inspired me.
World History during my Sophomore year of high school helped open my eyes to what was occurring outside of the borders of the United States. I learned to follow global affairs, in this class taught by a man who would sit on his desk with crossed legs and pull the best out of his students. He let us know that it was okay to ask why apartheid faraway in South Africa impacted me? He like so many of my high school teachers motivated us to venture out around our city to learn outside the classroom. These projects were usually called extra credit; however, visiting The Peace Museum or seeing the movie Gandhi about the life of Mohandas Gandhi, East Indian leader who stood against British rule, were up close looks in world history. Entering bravely into a citywide Historical Society competition and earning an honorable mention helped build research skills that I use today.
In addition to World History, being able to help create a book that would be cherished for years into the future was rewarding. As a yearbook staffer, under guidance of who would become my Senior year A.P. English teacher was rewarding. Laying out pages, carefully creating memories was always a joy and never felt like work. Shifting through photos making sure there was no white space in layouts, looking for typos and making sure just the right balance existed for all classes were task I enjoyed greatly. Looking back, I would probably have carried those skills into the real world and maybe in a small way, I have with PaisleyPerspective.
During college being one of the few African American U.S. citizens majoring in Applied Mathematics, I sometimes felt alone in classes. But my Differential Equations professor made me realize there truly are excellent professors and awful ones. He was on the end of excellent, I proudly earned a 98% average in a class that buckled the knees of the smartest students. I recently learned that he is now the head of my college mathematics department.
I could keep writing about those teachers/instructors I have encountered in my workplace. There is something special about someone who can share knowledge with you. And not just share it but do so well and with compassion. Being an excellent teacher is a special gift, actually it is a calling. It is not just about being off during summers with year around schools that is occurring less these days. It is about reaching a students mind and knowing what you need to do to engage them. There is discussion about common core in schools and the what and how things should be done. I don’t know about all of that but I do know that a good teacher can break through and leave a positive lasting impression even well over 25 years.
To every person who may be a teacher or work with a teacher I pray you have a safe school year. Yes, I said pray because I believe in prayer and this is my blog. May you and your students understand each other and make new learning discoveries throughout the school year.
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