Influencers, Part 3: Teachers

Teachers, both traditional and non-traditional, rank just after family and elders on my list of people who have most influenced me. These folks opened up new horizons and introduced me to the wider world beyond my home.

My first-grade teacher, Miss Shirk, recognized that I, at the age of six, could already read proficiently. She ensured that I had a steady supply of stimulating books to enjoy. Back in those days, many female teachers quit the profession when they married. I mourned for months after she did that.

A couple of years later, school administrators placed me in Mrs. Snyder’s 3rd/4th grade combination class with the hope that being with older kids would keep me motivated. It did, but Mrs. Snyder liked me so much that she talked my mom into keeping me for 4th grade, too. Mrs. Snyder cried when we moved mid-term and I had to change schools. I loved being loved!

Mr. Hollenbach treasured the written word. He read to his sixth-graders daily, encouraged us to be creative, and inspired me to take my writing abilities seriously. That’s the year I began keeping a journal.

During junior high school, it seemed to me that kids my own age had (at least temporarily) resigned from the human race, so I generally steered clear of them. I wrestled with shyness, bullying, and pimples. Non-traditional teachers threw me a lifeline. Ray and Bob taught me about old coins and international stamps and the history interwoven with them. Mr. Matson introduced me to bicycle touring. Bill lured me into a performing choral group, where I even sang a solo in a public venue. Summer camp counselors facilitated my first deep dive into nature—I haven’t yet come up for air!

All through high school, excellent teachers brought out the best in me. Mr. Rosney’s official claim to fame was that Raquel Welch had been his student a few years before I landed in his class. But I remember him most for bringing history alive. I hated math, but Mr. Clark made me like geometry. Mr. McCann’s English class was magical.

“Girls can’t do that!” said certain family members and acquaintances when I went off to forestry school. Without the guidance of sympathetic professors and upperclassmen, I might have proved the naysayers right. Instead, I emerged with a diploma and spent a lifetime in the woods and writing for periodicals all over the West.

And now, close to entering my seventh decade on this planet, I continue to find mentors and influencers nearly everywhere I look. I am grateful that these people, past and present, have all contributed to who I am today. Paraphrasing Aristotle, my whole is greater than the sum of my parts, and that makes me glad.

#teachers #mentors #influencers

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

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Glenda Beall
7 days ago

Teachers were very important in my life,too. I became a teacher and loved my students. Even now a great joy in my life is teaching. But my students now are adults who want to write .