Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Everyday I Write The Book

No workout today. Went into work for training, but the piece of equpment I needed training on was down, so I did some lab work and left early.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled happy blog post...

Women Who Have Shaped My Life - #3

In the 8th grade we finally had teachers who were not Catholic Nuns from Spain, but regular folk, men and women. The whole concept in grades 7 and 8 was to prepare us for the high school years, so we had different teachers for each subject and went into different class rooms as well. For English, Art and Music, we had Ms. R... Ms. R was probably in her early 30's, petite, quirky, smoked cigarettes at break time, and was amazingly able to deal with unruly adolescents. I looked forward to her classes because it got me out of the classes with some of the stricter nuns that made all of our lives miserable.

In music class, she actually showed us how to use tone, harmony, rhythm, etc. Prior to that, music class consisted of learning church songs, well, except for once in Mrs. L's class, we learned "I Am a Rock, I Am an Island" by Simon and Garfunkle... My entire class enjoyed Ms. R's music lessons tremendously -- we would sing and harmonize so loud that teachers from the other classrooms would ask her to "tone it down." In English class, we did the required vocabulary tests and various book report assignments. In addition to those assignments, she introduced us to "creative writing." Because we had the nuns from Spain, we had no clue that writing could be creative, and that we were allowed to be free with our writing. What a concept! Our class had great fun with this creative writing thing. Several of us just lit fire with this type of writing because it was fun. Ms. R would have each of us read back what we had written, to the class. It amazed me that my class mates would ask to have the stories re-read because they were so interesting and fun. Words had became colorful and had texture, and meant something to us. Ms. R also introduced us to journaling, where there are no rules, and this, again, was new to most of us in my class. Art classes were the same. She came up with the most fun and unusual assignments and we just took off with it. This was the same year I actually tried out for the school newspaper and got in. I never really tried out for any sports or other activities at school before. While on the school newspaper "team" the most I did was a paragraph about "kite day" and drew a picture to go with it... The newspaper came out sporadically, so my article and picture was "published" in the last paper of the school year... The music class that we had in Ms. R's class helped in high school. I didn't know how to play any musical instruments, but I was given a flute to use and told to figure out how to play it. Really. (And no, I didn't attend band camp... LOL) Ms. R's lessons in tone and rhythm really helped, so I wasn't completely clueless. I figured out how to play the flute in no time.

Soon after we got into 9th grade in High School, we found out that the principal (the head nun) let Ms. R go. Perhaps they had different ideas about teaching? I do know that the principal didn't care for Ms. R on a personal level. I don't know what happened to Ms. R after that, but I sure would have liked to at least gone back to the school to visit her, and to thank her for making Catholic school a little bit more interesting. I had fun learning.

Thanks Ms. R!
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chantal2bfit said...

That's an awesome story about Ms. R! In my experience, teachers like that are few and far between. In all honesty, I don't have any teachers that left that good of an impression on me.

sister smile said...

What a great story! I had a teacher like that: my ninth-grade English teacher, Mrs. K. She was a wonderful, inspiring woman. I always regretted not keeping in touch with her and I've thought of her from time to time over the years.

And then. . .

When I was back home dealing with family stuff, I happened to be out picking up the mail and this woman who looked familiar came out of her townhouse (it's a retirement community) and asked where Mr. M****** was and whether I was a caretaker. I explained that I'm the youngest daughter and that he was in nursing home care. We had a nice chat.

Then, I went inside, found the resident directory, and confirmed my suspicions.

Mrs. K. lives across the street from my parents.

I went over to see her a few days later, introduced myself, and explained who I was. She didn't remember me, but she was glad to see any former student and I saw her tearing up as I told her what her class meant to me. I also found that she has a wicked sense of humor and a wonderful insight into the human psyche.

We're having her and her husband over for drinks when I'm out there in May. I think we're going to be friends.

Pamela said...

more great stories thanks so much for sharing them... they really make you think..

Irene said...

I think the latter years of high school and the college years provided teachers with the great love and enthusiasm of education, where I had most of my favorite teachers. Ms. R was defiently a bright spot for me at a time that was tough.

Sister Smile,
Oh, that's wonderful! What are the chances of that? I did have an opportunity (25 years later) to say thanks to a high school history teacher, but that's a whole other story. I hope I'm able to do the same with Ms. R.

You're welcome. The task was to blog about 5 women who have shaped my life during March, which is also "Women's Histor Month." This has been a good exercise for me, and it's really jogging the memory.

NotSoccer Mom said...

i've really enjoyed this exercise too. makes me really happy i didn't have any nuns teaching me, though! haha. next week will be tough, coming up with one last woman out of all of the wonderful women i've known.

Irene said...

It really makes you think, doesn't it? There were so many people in my life, men and women, who were catalysts for change in me. That nun was the only one who was physically abusive to me. There were other things that she did that were down right mean, but it would fill a whole book. I am thankful to the teachers/nuns who showed me kindness and compassion, and made learning fun.