Yesterday I highlighted just one of my favorite teachers. But of course there are many teachers to thank. I’ll thank two more today and give you a little reason why for each one.
Miss Feole, 4th grade. She made learning fun; she seemed as excited as we were about being in that classroom. She only recently retired so I imagine she was new to teaching when I had her. Art, music, reading, playing, field trips–fourth grade was a blast. Before school started each day we’d wait until the last possible moment watching from the top of the playground to see her car drive up the long driveway to the parking lot; looking carefully to see if she’d brought her guitar to school that day. When she did, it was like watching Maria from the Sound of Music, with a spring in her step and the enthusiasm for what was about to happen in that classroom.
She took a group of us to the state hospital to sing one Saturday. It was daunting for nine and ten-year-olds to be in a room of people in wheelchairs and many of them catatonic. I certainly couldn’t tell if they could hear us or were responding to us. I do remember though that she gave each of us a package of Teaberry gum as a treat that day.
I bumped into her recently at a local ice cream shop and I thanked her!
Mr. Doyle, 9th Grade English. Creative, funny, hopeful, crass, chauvinistic, supportive, and really smart. It was a classroom basically filled with 14-year-old girls, and I think about four or five boys. In the front row he sat the group of us that were “blondes”, his D. B. row. Had I known better at the time, maybe I would have been insulted.
The most amazing teaching lesson he did that year, and I will NEVER forget, was his version of The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. We were all in class, the bell had rung, and we sat, waiting. We’d seen him in the hallways earlier so we know he was in school. Then the door opened. He walked in, quietly down sat down in an empty chair in the back row. He’d changed his clothes trading the jacket and tie he’d usually wear for khaki pants–no belt, a plain t-shirt, and flip flops. His hair was a bit messed up and gone were the glasses from his face. He looked more as if he’d just woken from a nap rather coming in to teach an group of ninth graders on the college prep track.
He started to talk about how “…they’ll serve pudding today. Chocolate, which is my favorite.” As he continued to talk we were made to believe he was on leave from the “hospital” where he lived now; “the result of a disease (nervousness) which causes “over-acuteness of the senses”. He recounted the story, clearly, with each of us on the edge of those hard plastic classroom chairs. “Hearing the old man’s heart beating loudly and dangerously fast from terror, I jumped out with a loud yell and smothered the old man.”
Mr. Doyle left the classroom, the bell rang, and we wandered out of the room, confused, blown away, and I for one, was completely freaked out! Not sure what had just happened and knowing it probably wouldn’t happen again in that classroom.
Mr. Doyle passed away, unexpectedly almost two years ago. He was a great teacher and this is my moment to thank him.