Thank you to teachers who have molded me
To the editor:
Since I’m a teacher, I would like to take the opportunity to thank a few of my wonderful public school teachers from both the former Decatur Elementary School and East Derry Elementary School who taught me lessons that I have applied to my own work in public education.
Mrs. McCartney, Mrs. Dill and Mrs. Harshbarger took me into their classrooms and made me feel like I was in safe, inviting places to learn. Thank you all! I had barely turned five when I began kindergarten, so I am mindful of the power of warmth in allowing a child to succeed in school.
When our class was her last class before retirement, Mrs. Yoder shared “mementos” with us. This included posters, old packets, and cutouts. Now I know that children will cherish items that might otherwise end up in a landfill and that a teacher can score extra bonus points if those items are laminated.
Mr. McMinn taught me, in addition to the curriculum requirements, patience and persistence. His room connected to the Main Office long ago, before East Derry was remodeled. He was in the office for some reason, when crash! The cabinet at the back of the room fell off the wall. The doors slid open, and the contents flew out. He didn’t come in yelling about what was going on, accusing us of doing anything wrong, which we hadn’t. He calmly sized up the situation and started cleaning up to make the room safe for us to move about in. Through this, Mr. McMinn taught me that patience is key.
Mrs. Freed taught me about growth mindset before it became a trend in education. I remember a huge social studies test that only two of her students had passed. Rather than throw her hands up in the air, thinking that we couldn’t learn about the Civil War, she told us that we were going to spend a couple more days to learn the material and then we would retake the test. The entire class improved their scores. This proved to me that any student can learn when provided the necessary support.
Later in life, when I began to take karate lessons, Mrs. Freed returned to my life as a karate friend, and on the way to classes we had a bit of a Star Trek: The Next Generation Fan Club of two. It is so important to share connections like that. In modern times, I rely somewhat on YouTube to learn more about what my students are interested in, such as Jojo Siwa or Fortnite.
Once again, thank you all. My memories of each of you remind me of the positive effect a great pubic school teacher can have. Each of you helped to mold me into the public school teacher I am today.