Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?
Oh wow, this is a thinker. When I think of inspiration I think teachers I had as a student. I suppose technically they can be called colleagues as they were still teaching when I first began but as for teachers I have worked with that’s a bit harder.
Ok first those teachers that inspire me:
Mrs. Bachert 5-8 Communication Arts and yearbook advisor: Mrs. Bachert genuinely cared about us. She was willing to be a real person with us. She teased us, allowed us to tease her as long as it was appropriate. I loved reading and writing anyway but there had been times in the past that I didn’t enjoy doing it in class as she made it fun however.
Mrs. Williams – Modern American History freshman year. Mrs. Sally Hunter-Williams was passionate about her subject area. She really wanted us to learn from history. She was strict on behavior, attendance, and tardies. I was in the door one day when the bell rang but not in my seat and got a detention, that might make some students angry but for me it was just a sign of her high expectations. She had them for all of her students and there was no wriggling out of them. She made me want to try harder.
Mrs. Harris – English 1 (Honors English 1) freshman year: Mrs. Harris singled me out in a good way early on in the year. She thought I could do the Honors English work though I was only in the regular English class. She took it upon herself to go to the other teachers and counselors to rearrange my schedule and that of two other students so that we could be in the same class. Once that was accomplished she taught the three of us what the rest of the class learned along with an extra curriculum to help us earn honors credit. She went out of her way for me and I’ve never forgotten that.
Mr. Hopkins – Honors English 2, sophomore year: Mr. Hopkins struck me as an enthusiastic teacher from the start. I loved his “No Hunting” sign at the front of his room. He explained the first day that his room was a safe zone. We should all be allowed to feel comfortable to share our work. We journaled every day and he always asked for volunteers to share. This was not something I would normally do but in his class I became willing to raise my hand because I knew whatever I shared would be accepted by my classmates and even if they didn’t like it or thought it was dumb they’d never say a word, it wouldn’t be allowed. The district at the time had a yearly Creative Writing workshop for students in the CW classes at the high schools. Our CW classes were a bit smaller that year, so the teacher came to Mr. H and asked him if there were any students from his class he thought might enjoy the workshop. He suggested me, and it was a great experience. I then cadet taught for Mr. H my senior year, he let me teach a few classes and then gave me great feedback. Honestly he is the first person I think of when I’m stuck, I ask myself “What would Mr. Hopkins do?”
Dr. Berger – AP English senior year: Oh Dr. B, may he rest in peace, was one of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever had. He really cared about the books we read. He was dramatic, raising and lowering his voice, making up words (every car had dual exhaust and zitzenflingers, yeah even today that word makes me just grin), he didn’t hesitate to use voices, you simply couldn’t tune out in his class. Think Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society and you have the passion level of Dr. B. He gave the address at our baccalaureate that year and I ordered the yearbook supplement solely so I could have a copy of it.
Hmmm it really should come as no surprise that I ended up teaching com arts, as most of my teaching inspirations are English teachers, even Mrs. Williams moved to the English dept after I had her.
As for teachers I’ve worked with, honestly I’d say any special education teacher is an inspiration. It’s one thing for me to work with these students one on one but to work with them in groups, to work so hard to help them grow and learn and then see it lost due to external circumstances and they just keep going. It’s amazing to me. Wow this has turned out to be my longest answer yet.