Teacher Appreciation Week running May 7-11, 2012, why not take a moment to thank your children's teachers, or to remember those who made a difference in your own life.
This big red apple is for my sister who is in the Chesterfield County, Va, school system teaching elementary students, for all my teacher friends, for the homeschool moms who are 24/7 teachers, and for those educators who helped mold me.
I was educated in the Chesterfield County public school system outside Richmond. I received a wonderful education, and there are teachers from elementary through high school who still stand out to me.
Mrs. Gibson was my first grade teacher, a loving lady whose daughter was my best friend (and who is now a pharmacist). Mrs. Gibson taught me to read and opened the world to this bookworm.
Mrs. Booth was my sixth grade teacher who encouraged my love of writing and who hoped to see me published one day. When The Washington Examiner offered a paid writing position several years ago, Mrs. Booth's hope from years earlier finally came true.
In seventh grade I had Mr. Witthoeft, a teacher fresh out of college who was youthful and fun. We were in middle school but weren't to the point of changing classes yet so he was my sole teacher for all subjects. What a class of high achievers we had!
What Mr. Witthoeft did was continue to encourage my love of writing as well as compliment my love of reading. He once asked the class how many books they read each month. When he got to me, he filled in the blank himself: "Probably 30 or so." That was a bit of an exaggeration but he had noticed that I always had a book in my hand.
He taught creative writing in a way that made me want to jump into the assignments. Math? Ugh. Writing? Bring it on! It kindled the fire that still burns inside to write and share in what is a cathartic activity for me.
Another budding writer was in that class and he made newspaper reporting his career. Even today, Bob Stuart's articles -- many about politics -- can be read in the Waynesboro News Virginian. Oddly enough, after parting ways at the completion of high school, he and I have now lived in the same area of the Shenandoah Valley for a number of years and often see one another at supervisor meetings and other news-worthy events.
In high school there was an older gentleman whose name I cannot dredge up at the moment but he was the teacher instrumental in bringing debating into my life. Every issue has (at least) two sides, and he taught us to research and use facts instead of getting caught up in the passion of hysterics. He wasn't able to teach me to be comfortable with public speaking -- I still took zeros on any subject that required standing in front of the class -- but I learned to use those debate skills in my writing.
Years later when I was in my 40s, after spending years educating my children at home, I finally overcame my fear of public speaking with the help of a homeschool student. Nate Salatin, who spoke frequently for Augusta County 4-H projects, taught a public speaking class in my living room for his fellow homeschool students. I took the class right along with them. Nate provided the tools necessary to become comfortable addressing crowds, and I later went on to speak at his Class of 2007 graduation as well as at conventions and other venues. I looked forward to speaking and learned to enjoy this mid-life achievement.
Even today I'm still learning from those around me especially the youthful bloggers who offer technical advice and open my eyes to new worlds of technology. My teacher friends encouragingly push me beyond my comfort zone as I continue my learning journey.
To them all, I tip my hat with gratitude for the hours of dedication, energy, and loving attention they put into making education fun and, well, educational, for their students because to teach is, truly, to touch the future.
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift