This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, but hopefully if you attend school or have kids in school, you already knew that.
I want to tell you about the teacher who had the biggest impact on me, and who remains a friend even to this day.
Her name was Sister Mary, and she was having none of my laziness. Or anyone else’s in my freshman AP English class, but I think I was probably the worst offender. Every day we came into class, she had a quote of some kind on the whiteboard, and we had one of those old-skool composition notebooks which we had to write a page worth’s of reaction to the quote. She gave us ten minutes, and let’s just say most of the time, I never made it to the half-page mark. And my writing was quite purposefully large. We didn’t have to turn in the notebook until the end of the quarter, so I breezed along thinking all was good.
When I got the notebook back, all was not good. The inside was dripping with red ink and sarcasm. Sister Mary must have taken an entire day to write snide remarks about my inability to form a cohesive sentence, and the fallacious nature of ninety percent of my reasoning. This along with her horrible temper made me quite dislike Sister Mary, although it certainly felt wrong to hate a nun. You know, being Jesus’ bride and all that. But dislike her I did, and I even wrote a note to my best friend describing my great dislike, which her parents promptly found and read, then banished me from being their daughter’s friend forever. True story.
But isn’t it always the teachers who constantly hound you to do better that you wind up respecting the most? Even as she glowered at me from behind her glasses, I knew that she was trying to make me a better writer and thinker. She had high expectations of me, and for the first time as a student, I rose to meet them. I think I learned more about the art of writing in her class than I did from any other class in my high school career.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day after school we began talking, and I found out a lot about Sister Mary. That she had been taking care of a terminally ill mother, and her famous (you would totally know who he was if I told you!) brother was of no help, thus her crabbiness. That she was truly one of the wittiest and most intelligent women I had ever met. That she had a plan to write her own book, she was just waiting for retirement. Sister Mary and I actually became friends, writing letters to each other for years after her retirement and relocation to another state. Every year she would send me a Mass Card, and I kept every one. And yes, she wrote and published her book.
Thank you, Sister Mary. You made a difference in my life, and I am forever grateful that you were my teacher.