Friday, August 09, 2013

5 Teachers That Have Influenced My Life Thus Far

Two months into the 44th year of my life. At this time it feels appropriate to look back and see how I have earned some of my character. Today, I think it should be the teachers that have affected my desire to learn and my love of knowledge.

My very first teacher that has influenced me would have to be my mom. She has taught me the important things I need in my life: Love, acceptance, childcare, dishes, taking out the trash, affection and most importantly how to play. She inspired me to use my imagination by reading to my hearts delight. Dreaming of living in the Secret Garden; sitting side by side with Francie watching from a fire escape while a tree grew in the cracks of concrete in a town located in a borough in NY.
I learned To play with the Little People houses that we had a bajillion of so that I would know how to socialize and communicate with many people.  I learned how to color with any colors that I wanted, not just the normal blue for the sky, blonde for hair that I could see the world in technicolor and not just what other people told me to believe should be correct.
We ran up hills pretending we were in the Chariots of Fire race singing the theme from that movie and then would either slow motion run down or tumble head over heels as fast as we could as if we were hedgehogs. Kingdoms were built out of sand and then a flood would come and destroy them finding a hidden treasure. Summers consisted of daytime kids movies and then rerunning them in our mind. Candy such as Lik-a-stix and Ring Pops were eaten at Scera pool. We had barbies, Strawberry Shortcake and her friends, and also Rainbow Brite and her Sprites. We swung in swings pretending to be airplanes or trying to kick up to the stars so we could talk to the man on the moon. We read about Santa, then watched for his sleigh on Christmas Eve; ever searching for the bright light of Rudolph's nose. These are the things that I have been able to pass on to my children and will pass on to my grandchildren.
In hindsight I see that my mom wasn't just playing with me and my sisters but she was teaching us lessons we needed in life to be moral, responsible adults.

My second teacher that influenced me was my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Alldredge. She showed me that you can learn and have fun at the same time. She sat with me when I struggled to sit still and do my in-class work. She let us sing while we were working and didn't laugh if we made up the words. In her eyes we were professional opera singers. I guess she taught me to accept myself and built on  my desire to learn and grow with culture in my life. She was like Ms. Honey from Matilda. She truly loved to teach. As far as I can remember I don't think that I have ever told her that. Sad.

My third teacher Mr. Stewart was my sixth grade teacher who taught at Spencer Elementary in Orem. I went to that school for only one year but that by far is my most favorite learning establishment of all.  My mom was our room mother. We had a dance where our teacher got to dance with all of us. He taught us line dancing, and folk dancing.  Interesting enough, the physical building reminds me of the school in Matilda where we had a separate lunch place. The food was shipped in, we did not have a cafeteria we all ate outside.
Mr. Stewart was cool!  He was up on the music of the day. He let us bring in and listen to the music that we loved and as long as it was clean it was played. I brought in the Oak Ridge Boys and Billy Joel's Glass Houses. Now, as a mother of teenagers I don't think that I would have allowed my 12 year olds to listen to some of the songs on the Glass Houses album but in the late 70's his music was meek compared to let's say The Rolling Stones. We read in a group not like in "centers" but as in the whole class sitting on the floor snuggled up on cushions, and all the while listening to "calm classical piano".

Mr. Stewart owned a restaurant called Hamburger Heaven in Orem and served popcorn in hot dog trays which you could snack on waiting for your order which was cooked fresh with each meal. There was a jukebox and it looked just like an old 50's diner. Now, this might be the norm now, but in the 70's it wasn't. No one served popcorn, peanuts maybe but not popcorn.  Restaurants was coming up with new ideas and new buildings not looking to go retro like we do now. So, his coolness showed in his after school business too.  Mr.Stewart taught me that you could teach and accept what your students interests were without them feeling like they were children. He taught me that if you have a dream (like his restaurant,) you should go after it until it comes to fruition.

My fourth teacher was Mr. Frohm, his influence was not for the good. He taught me the things that you should not do. Some of my HS friends might disagree with me but I had a rotten experience with him and this is how I grew and learned when I got older about how to treat a teenager. He was too involved with pranks, he looked the other way when it came to bullying and he thought it was all in fun when someone was locked in a cello cabinet all lunch time. He made me feel as if I was worthless at a time when I was struggling to find my identity. He made me feel untalented and worst of all ugly. He let my band mates tease me without ever saying a word. Its a stuggle enough to be a sixteen year old just from dealing with the hormonal changes, emotional abuse that other kids can dish out without having to have a teacher who encouraged it.

From him I learned to do the opposite. I learned that teenagers are important. Their interests, there dreams, there self worth is everything that needs to be built up instead of tearing down when they are between the ages of 13 and 18. They should be taught to shine though your adult words. They should be listened to, and not judge. As adults we are to counsel when asked after encouraging them to talk to their parents, and most importantly help them to feel like as if they can live in an adult world and know how to deal with adult problems.

The Fifth teacher to influence me was a college professor. Dr. Robison. She encouraged me to continue on my quest to teach english. This she did by allowing me to lead discussions, help take the role while studying for exams and just her support of the idea that this is what I really wanted to do with my life.

She encouraged me to use my words to express myself though new forms of writing. I had never written poetry before and she taught me the beauty of it's form and dignity. Poetry has been a venue that I have been able to express myself when I feel as if there is no other way to risk what is held deep down inside. This is something that I can hold dear for the rest of my life (okay, as long as I have the capabilities of writing or thinking...).

Literature as some of you know has been in my life for as long as I can remember. It is my escape from reality, it is the main form of  my vocabulary building repertoire. It is a part of me like my heart, my hands and my feet. Dr. Robison taught me that short stories, and novels can not only be things of enjoyment but words of wisdom to teach us about how we should live our lives and to chew on all words that are discussed with others. We can learn from others from their words, their thoughts and then weigh out what is said and incorporate those things that live within your values and morals but also, to not judge others if their views are different than yours as wrong. We are all entitled to our personal views.  I guess you could say that she taught me that our world is an everlasting fountain of knowledge and like a coal miner we need to dig deep to produce the diamond that we call our lives.

It find it productive to look back and learn from what we have experienced in our lives so that we can continue to grow. Today, this has been a good reminder of what I have accomplished. Also, it reminds me that moving forward does require looking back and learning from our mistakes so that we can continue on and grow.