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To All the Teachers that Inspired Me

I’m a Teacher Because of Each of You

By ElsaPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 8 min read
To All the Teachers that Inspired Me
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

We spend so much time as kids with our teachers. Some teachers care, some teachers don’t, some teachers are vague memories, but others are etched into your heart and inspire you.

Elementary

I was always a daydreamer. I always had my head in the clouds. I remember I would make impossible senarios in my head instead of working on my math problems or reading skills. In 3rd grade, my daydreaming became an issue.

“Elsa! Grab a book and take a seat.” Ms. Dotton said for about the tenth time.

This was a common occurance. She was my 3rd grade teacher. She was rather short with circle glasses and short, blond, curly hair. I couldn’t stand her. She made me read aloud and forced me to practice my sight words. After we finished our lessons we would have D.E.A.R time (Drop Everything And Read), I hated it. I hated books, I hated reading. I much rather follow the movies I made up in my own head. I would also like to stand next to the window (where the bookshelves were at) and pretend I was looking for a book but really trying to figure out shapes in the clouds.

“Elsa. What’s going on in there? What are you thinking about?” Ms. Dotton would ask with a concerned look while she would pull me aside.

By Taylor Van Riper on Unsplash

I didn’t know how to explain it to her but all I remember saying was “head movies”. I was a horrible student in those early years. I refused to work or insisted on just sitting there and play my head movies. She ended up calling my mom for multiple parent meetings. She would tell her that I would not focus in class, but that I was smart. This continued on for all of 3rd grade. I was even sent out for testing, to see if I had learning challenges. Nothing came of those test. I couldn’t stand Ms. Dotton then but now as a teacher myself, I know she only cared and was concerned.

One clear memory I have of her is her giving me the book Matilda, and telling me that I would love it, if I gave it a chance. She would tell me that books can also create movies in my head, if I just gave them a chance. I didn’t that year or the following or my last in elementary. It was so bad my 5th grade year that I had to go to summer school, that is when it hit me. I have to try, I can’t be held back! I was so embarrassed and disappointed that I had to go to summer school.

The last memory I have of Ms. Dotton was of the last week of 5th grade. I’m sure teachers talked back then, like we do now. She knew I was going to summer school for failing my TAAS tests (Texas standardized tests in the late 90s early 2000s). She came up to me, I was sad about telling my mom I had to go to summer school. She sat by me on the benches at recess and told me something that stayed with me. I don’t recall word for word but it was something like this.

“You are a smart girl, Elsa. You just have to learn to focus. Try doing it a little at a time. Work for some time and take an imagination break, and so on.” She told me as I sat on that bench with tears welling up.

“Also, give reading a chance. Books can open up even more doors of imagination. They also form movies in your head, you know?” She said nudging me.

I remember thinking that if my “head movies” made me lose focus, why was she encouraging me to read if that also had the same effect? But now, as an adult, I know reading can do so much more.

The day dreaming started to fade after elementary school.

Ms. Dotton, thank you for caring. Thank you, for pushing me to read. Thank you, for trying to get my head out of the clouds and into books.

Middle School

Since my scare of summer school, I tried to become a better student. It was actually math, that was, has always been, and still is a struggle for me. I had actually passed my Reading TAAS but not my Math TAAS. It was seventh grade, in 2001. I was in Ms. Goodson’s class and she was one of the best, if not, the best ELA teacher I’ve had. We were reading The Outsiders, and the way she taught it, it really got me captivated into the story. That was the first book I couldn’t put down. I remember crying when Johnny died and sobbing when Dally was shot. I remember reading passed the homework pages she would assign us and her smile when I told her that I needed to know what was going to happen and I couldn’t stop reading it.

By joba khan on Unsplash

It was the morning of September 11, 2001. I had already finished the book, and I believe we were only a third of the way through it as a class. Ms. Goodson was calling on students to read aloud and we were discussing the chapter we were on. Just then, her classroom phone rings. She responds with a confused “okay” and then puts the phone back on the receiver. She announces that there will be an announcement over the speaker and many kids are going to be picked up. We all looked at each other in confusion and stayed silent. She said “Just stay calm and we will know more information.” Just then the speaker came on and the office assistant called out “The following students, grab your stuff and report to the office. You are being picked up.” And she listed off an endless amount of names. After what seemed like hours, the voice stopped talking. Almost all my class was called. There were about 5 of us left, and very confused.

“What’s going on, Ms. Goodson?” A student asked puzzled.

Ms. Goodson seemed worried, her young face crinkled without answering. The phone rang again. She spoke in a hushed voice. She placed the phone up and rolled the tv in front of the classroom. Told us 5 to get together and that there was something going on in our country, it was far away from us but that the school board decided that we were old enough to know.

The images of smoke and fire were all over the screen. Buildings covered with ash and reporters speaking in frantic voices. Ms. Goodson explained that we were safe at school. Later on we found out the reason many kids were getting picked up was because we live in the Space City. NASA is very close by and there was a fear of it being attacked as well. We watched for a few more minutes and she decided to turn it off.

By Julien Maculan on Unsplash

Instead of continuing the reading, she let us play games. I was still rereading parts of the book trying to get my mind off of what was going on in our country. Ms. Goodson came to me and asked if I wanted to play any of the games, I said I would rather read again. She said “How about you write me a report about The Outsiders? It can be extra credit! You can also draw a picture to go with it. What do you think?” I said okay and worked on that while everyone else either drew, read other books, did extra credit, or played games to keep our minds off what we had just saw. One of the students was crying saying that his mom didn’t care about him and that’s why he was still at school. I hadn’t thought about that until he mentioned it. Ms. Goodson reminded us that the safest place to be right now, was at school. That our parents knew that and that’s why they hadn’t come for us. She did her best to calm us down and keep us distracted.

We stayed with her until the end of the day. They consolidated the rest of 7th grade into 3 classrooms, everyone else had been picked up.

Thank you, Ms. Goodson. You not only made me love reading, but kept us safe and calm during one of the biggest moments in our generation.

Side note, I recently was looking for a new teaching job. I was called in for an interview for a Special Ed position at the middle school I went to! I was all ready for my interview and walked into a room of 3 people. Guess who was the director of ELA and part of the interview committee? Ms. Goodson! It was so great to see her and she actually remembered me, after over 20 years. I unfortunately couldn’t work there because I did not pass the math part of the Core Subjects 4-8. In Texas now, you have to have both your Special Education EC-12 (which I have) and also the content you will teach. This is a very recent rule. I have taken the test 3 times and still haven’t passed the math part, all the other parts, yes. She told me to call her as soon as I am able to pass it, and that I’ll have a job there. Everything happens for a reason but when I’m ready to take it again, I hope I pass. Math has always been my struggle.

By Ben Mullins on Unsplash

High School

It’s funny how I have so many vivid memories of elementary school and middle school. I remember the names of all my teachers from kinder all the way to 8th grade. When it comes to high school, I only remember the names of a few teachers and my memories are clouded with pep-rallies, mums, skipping, and blue eye shadow. High school was great, don’t get me wrong, but the memories have faded more than my younger years. I do remember my 10th grade ELA teacher, Mr. Fisher.

Mr. Fisher was a tall and lanky man with a raspy voice. I was at a school with about 3 thousand students, from all parts of the city. Mr. Fisher, didn’t play. He was funny and cared for us but he also wasn’t going to waste his time with those that skipped or didn’t care about their assignments.

I enjoyed reading at this time and we read so many classics, required at the time for our grade. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gastby, Of Mice and Men, and 1984. The way he made the class dive into the books, was really a work of art. Kids skipped other classes, they went to Subway across the street or smoked in the parking lot. But they wouldn’t miss Mr. Fisher’s class. His class was always packed.

I remember one assignment he gave us, based on To Kill a Mockingbird, we did a mock trail. The whole class was invested for weeks. For 1984, he made us write our own dystopia. With that, the love for dystopian literature grew within me.

He was always very honest with us. He never sugarcoated anything.

By NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Thank you, Mr. Fisher. You inspired me to persue writing and teaching.

Other teachers have also inspired me in some way or another. These are the 3 that have had an impact deeper than the others. They made me love writing, reading, and inspired me to teach. In public classrooms, teachers sometimes feel that they don’t make a change, that lessons are lost on students. But there will always be those students that they do impact, that they take those lessons with them into adulthood.

Thank you, for helping me be the teacher I am today.

School

About the Creator

Elsa

Teacher, traveler, fur baby mom, reader, and writer. I enjoy writing historical fiction stories, fiction, poetry, true crime, and nonfiction.

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