17 June 2008 10:50 AM

My Favorite Teachers

by Dr. Rick
Stop people on the street – anyone, at random – and ask them to tell you about their favorite teacher. I guarantee, you’ll hear some amazing stories. Everyone has a favorite teacher. If they’re lucky, they’ve had a few who’ve made lasting impressions on them.

I guess I’m one of those lucky ones. I don’t think it’s the forgiving mist of memories, either, but I remember several of my elementary school teachers, nuns mostly (and not the scary type, although there were one or two of them), who stand up to kind reflection. I was an “army brat,” so my family moved with an accustomed frequency, and I was exposed to lots of different schools and teachers. I remember a few high school teachers who impressed upon me some academic rigor and respect, even motivation, for learning. And in college, there were many who not only taught me well but eventually became trusted mentors and then beloved friends. (Dr. Carr, Dr. Roderick, this is for you.)

I was even lucky in my working life. Several of my colleagues in the schools and offices where I worked taught me and nurtured my career as they too, became old friends. I watched Bob Bishop, a veteran teacher who taught across the hall from me during my earliest days of teaching, and I’d emulate what he did. Sometimes it worked for me, sometimes it didn’t.

I learned from Dick Price, my first boss, English department chair, who taught me the importance of humor in the classroom and its power in defusing unpleasant situations as well as motivating learning. Link humor with a startling depth of knowledge about your subject, and you could get kids to want to learn just about anything.

I learned from superintendents for whom I worked. Dr. Robert Y. Dubel was a master of communications. Dr. Stuart Berger was a model for holding onto deeply-held beliefs. Dr. Anthony Marchione was adept at gaining consensus from widely diverging groups.

Making the transition from the public to the private sector, I was eager to learn from the best around me. I’m still learning and I’m grateful for the chance to work with folks like Doug Becker and Peter Cohen.

I have stories about each one, but here’s just one. Mr. Bob Bishop (he was room 212 and I 213) had an overcrowded homeroom class and had to sit a student at his desk for the fifteen minute attendance-taking and announcements period.

One day, in boredom, the boy at Bob’s desk rummaged secretly through the drawers. In the back he found an inkpad and a stamp that read “bull - - - - t,” a gag-gift Bob had received and prudently put in the back of his desk, long ago forgotten. Before Bob could stop him, the boy had inked up the stamp and decorated his notebook.

The next day the boy came to class with a note from his father.

“Well, there goes my career,” Bob thought as he opened the envelope. “It was nice while it lasted.”

“Dear Mr. Bishop,” the dad wrote. “I couldn’t help but notice the decorations on my son’s notebook. He tells me he used a stamp that belongs to you. The next time he misbehaves in school, please apply that stamp to his forehead.”

Calamity averted. Sighs of relief exhaled. Smiles all around.

Who are your favorite teachers? If you haven’t told them, do so. Then share your stories here. Sad stories, funny stories, inspiring stories, ironic stories. We want to hear them.

Are you a teacher? Send me the stories that have made you laugh – or cry – over the years. Share these stories, and we’ll see why our favorite teachers stay with us forever. I’d be willing to bet that we remember them at least as much – maybe more – for their off-lesson lessons as well as for their planned-lesson lessons!




Add comment


  • Comment
  • Preview

Blog Posting Rules

This blog is for the good of education - for students, for teachers and for parents. I very much value a two-way communication with you and welcome and encourage your comments and feedback. However, to facilitate a constructive conversation that is beneficial to everyone in this online community, I expect the same respect in your comments that I present in my blog.

Read the full Dr. Rick Blog Posting Rules.