Influential Teachers

Each week, I go to different grade level math meetings as part of my job as a resource teacher.  At the beginning of each meeting, we start with “Celebrations”.  Yesterday, on one team, the celebration was to reflect on who your most influential teacher was.  I loved listening to others share who the teacher was, what grade and for better or worse how they were influenced by this individual.

I had no idea how many of our teachers were children of teachers.  Several people said that they called their mom after a challenging day or when they wanted to reflect on how a lesson or interaction went.  That sounding board, for me, was always Dave.  I would come home and unload whatever was on my mind.  And he would listen and generally offer me a solution or advice which I may or may not have followed.  Over time, he realized that his best response was just to be happy or indignant or frustrated with me.  That was really what I was looking for.  Yesterday was kind of a frustrating day.  I would have loved to have talked to him about it.  I miss that time.



For the record, my most influential teacher was Mr. Masatani (not sure how to spell it).  He was my fifth grade teacher.  He was kind of gruff and once accused me of using my brother’s project from the year before (as if!).  He had a connection with the LA Dodgers and awarded prizes like jerseys and baseballs for achievements.   I remember when your cursive handwriting met his high standard you were allowed to write in pen and he rewarded you with a special pen eraser.  The thing that I most remember about him though was that he was probably the first Japanese person that I had a lot of contact with.  It was the first time in my life that someone (at least to my face) recognized me as being asian and exposed me to what that meant.  It was the first time that I learned about the Japanese internment camps in WWII.  (For those of you who don’t know me, I was born in France.  My biological mom was Japanese and my biological father was Czech.  I was adopted when I was 2 1/2 in Germany by a caucasian US Army officer and his caucasian wife – also known as Mom and Dad!)  5th grade was the first time that I considered what it meant to be Japanese.

In college, I tutored a Japanese woman in English.  She teased me for my pitiful lack of knowledge historically and culturally and invited me over for meals so that I might learn more!

4 thoughts on “Influential Teachers

  1. I remember Miss McGowan in 4th grade at Cardinal Forest in Springfield – she was the very first teacher I had who made learning fun and was enthusiastic. She got married the next year and I could never remember her new last name, but I never forgot her. Even when I got a D on a report on China because I didn’t read the instructions carefully. I was supposed to research a holiday and I researched everything about China EXCEPT a holiday. I did an oral report and I did miserably, but she never made me feel bad about it. And I really learned the importance of reading directions carefully after that!! 🙂

  2. I am sorry you had a frustrating day Robyn….those days can be so incredibly hard-made worse by not having Dave there….
    You made me think of two other things with your post: I went to an all girls Catholic School from 1st thru 12th grade…taught exclusively by nuns except in 10th grade when we had a visiting priest who taught at the school for one year. I unfortunately was not in any of his classes, yet being the only male in the entire place, every single student had a mad crush on him..and I am pretty sure most of the nuns did too! You made me recall teachers who I have not thought about in years…Sister Zita.. Oh Robyn, she was the most terrifying nun I have ever met. Her hands knarled and disfigured by horrific arthritis…her skin, her hair (just the little bits that stuck out) and her perfectly starched habit were all snow white…I was not dumb by any means, but I was the youngest of three girls and my sisters were absolutely brilliant and had both aced her math class…. The anxiety I would have just walking to her classroom…. She never smiled, she never socialized with the other nuns, she enjoyed making you squirm…Sister Regina Claire was all of 4’11” tall and she would fall sound asleep standing at the lectern. Out like a light until the bell rang. But the one nun who I remember most, with great fondness, was Sister Anthony Edward who taught Mythology…I loved her and her tremendous enthusiasm. Second, I absolutely loved you sharing about your childhood…if you ever feel up to it I know myself and others would love to hear more. Did you ever take the Japanese student up on her offer??? Sorry this post was so long but you gave me an opportunity to relive some nice memories.. (except for Sister Zita). Prayers always, Lisa

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