Write about a teacher of yours who did something noteworthy.
Back at the beginning of June, I wrote about grief and how my father passed away when I was only ten years old. It was a very personal piece, and I think it resonated with a lot of people. I’m about to get personal again. I bring it up again because in order to answer this prompt, I need to set the stage. You may have wondered, with three girls under ten, he must have been young himself, and you would be right. He was two weeks shy of 38 when he passed.
But this is about before. This is about the teachers I had over the 14 months after the accident on the farm. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. B. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Chandler. And to some extent, it’s about my sisters’ teachers too, though I do not remember their names.
Mrs. B was a wild woman. She loved fun, and she wanted her students to have as much fun at school as possible. We never called her Mrs. Bywater, she was Mrs. B. She threw silly parties and organized a lock-in every year with the class across the hall. She made pancake breakfasts to celebrate after big exams and she always had a smile. She wouldn’t say “dam” and joked that beavers build “darns” and that town to the north was “Amsterdarn.” It’s such a weird thing to remember, but that stands out to me. When I spelled “circuit” correctly to win our town’s spelling bee, she was one of the first off the bleachers to run onto the floor and hug me in congratulations.
Mrs. Chandler was much more reserved. A more traditional educator. She was stern, but kind, and she encouraged you to ask questions. She was just as approachable as Mrs. B, if not quite half as fun. She cared about us just as much, in her own way. When I was training with a bunch of other girls for the Freihofer Run for Women in the spring (my first ever distance race) and wanted to quit, she encouraged me to keep going. She knew I would regret it if I didn’t see it through.
I don’t remember much else about 5th grade. That was when dad was in and out of hospitals and rehab centers and we would take time off from school to visit him. The coolest was the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey. Mom was a fan of Superman, and that was where Christopher Reeve had done rehab for his spinal injury five years earlier.
Before he went to NJ though, dad spent most of his recovery locally, in and around Albany. He was in the hospital there again at Christmas. Everyone at school knew our dad had been in an accident and couldn’t be home for the holiday. I guess they worried we wouldn’t have much of a Christmas that year, all things considered, and someone set up a gift-raiser. A week or two before the holiday, they brought my mom this giant box full of wrapped presents for us girls. There were so many, mom let us open a present a night until Christmas, just so the rest would fit around the tree on Christmas morning.
There’s a lot to be said about small town communities banding together when one of their own is hurting, and much of it is cliché, but I lived it. I was too young to fully appreciate it then. Those teachers did not have to go out of their way to make sure three little girls would have the best Christmas ever, but they did.
Mrs. B and Mrs. Chandler were very different teachers, but they were both there for me through the most difficult year and a half of my life. It’s been almost 20 years and I have never forgotten them.
Notes: I know I don’t usually write these notes to the essay style posts like this, but I had a bit more to add that didn’t have much to do with the prompt.
That Christmas really was the best. The school wasn’t the only one to stockpile gifts for us. The nurses at the hospital did too. We had a blast opening presents on the floor of dad’s room. Which was nearly empty because he was well enough to be in a chair, breathing on his own, for a couple hours. It was the first time in eight months we had seen him out of the hospital bed, not connected to a million machines. I’m grateful that our last Christmas together is such a happy memory.
And now’s the part where I remind you to answer the prompt! Did you ever have a teacher who did something noteworthy? Maybe they were also the town mayor at some point, or they published a scientific paper. It doesn’t have to be something they did for you, it just has to be interesting, significant, or unusual!
That does it for me and my feelings tonight. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be so nostalgic. Have a great night!
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