Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teachers I’d Like to Thank

      It is still August, but there is a chill in the air at night that says fall has returned. With the fall comes school, and thoughts of years past. It seems right to pause and thank some of the teachers who made a difference in my life.

      Thank you, Mrs. Gashio, for reading to us every afternoon in fourth grade. It was my favorite time of day. While afternoon sunlight filtered by the pine trees slanted through the huge windows, I would lay my head on my desk and be transported to other lands, other lives, and all because of the rise and fall of your gentle voice.

      Thank you, Mrs. Brackett, for giving me that “D” in Math in fifth grade. You see, I was one of those cocky kids who always got “A’s”. Mrs. Bracket had a rule, however, that even if you missed only one problem on your math paper, you had to correct it and turn it in – I never bothered. Three days before report cards came out, she told me I was going to get an “F” in Math; she later had a spasm of mercy and agreed to raise it to a “D” if I could learn the Preamble to the Constitution in one night. To this day, I can still recite, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” Thank you for teaching me that ability is not enough without hard work and responsibility.

      Thank you, Mr. Kelly, for taking time to talk to a rather gawky sixth grade boy not just about school, but about faith, and about life. Thank you for being patient with me.

      Thank you, Mr. Pavalakis, for joking with me as you taught me algebra and brought me out of my shell.

      Thank you, Mr. Birmingham, for being a fraud. Although everyone thought you were a high school history teacher, your students knew what you really were… you were a time machine. To this day, I attribute my love of history and political science to you.

      Thank you, Mrs. Williams, for saying to me in your smooth southern accent that, “Reading a big book is just like eating an elephant. You just take one bite at a time.” And despite my objections, I was able to stretch beyond what I thought possible. You are one of the reasons I have become a lifelong reader.

      Finally, thank you, Mrs. Elliot, for encouraging me to write, to keep a journal, to believe that I had something important to say.

      To these and many other teachers I can not remember, I offer my gratitude. Your efforts were not wasted. I doubt you ever made much money or received many awards, and you may not have even known the difference you made. Still, thank you. I believe your lives were well-spent.


  1. thanks, Rick - tears in eyes for the ones who were similar in my life, and sadly I don't remember their names. I especially love my high school Sr. Comp teacher who told me I could, indeed, write freely in any style I liked, but would fail the class. Wonder why we take all those wonderful people for granted?? Hated here at the time, but when people compliment me on my writing, I always remember her face...

  2. Dear Fr. C.,

         Maybe just remembering her face is honor enough. There are so many I don't remember either, even to put a face to them. I know someone taught be to put a period at the end of sentences, but I can't dredge up a name.

         At one point in my life many years ago, I was head of an organization and was able to invite many of these teachers I have mentioned. In my address I thanked them in much the same way as I did above. I was a special grace to say thank you directly to them.

         Mrs. Brackett, especially, hadn't changed a bit. After the dinner, when I went to thank her for coming, she just smiled and tartly said, "I'm glad you liked our services."


     Your comments are welcome. I've had to add a word verification step to the comment process to screen out spam. I apologize for the inconvenience.