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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teachers That Made A Difference in my Life

I’ve been fortunate to have had three teachers in my K-12 education that had a tremendous impact on me at that time and then throughout my life.

First is Miss Marilyn Lardy who was my 2nd grade teacher. She was young, gorgeous and she drove a blue 1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible. And I will never forget the chrome and fins on that car! Miss Lardy was an excellent teacher and I’ve always talked highly of her. One day I was talking with a parent of one of my students, Mrs. Gilmore, and our conversation turned to former teachers and I mentioned Miss Lardy. Well come to find out Miss Lardy, was one of Mrs. Gilmore’s best friends! OH my goodness, I had never once run into anyone who knew Miss Lardy! And so much time had elapsed since I was in 2nd grade! We had moved umpteen times, I had graduated from college, I was teaching and I had started my own business.

About two months later, school was over for the day and I was walking out of my classroom and there was Miss Lardy looking as glamorous as ever. I saw her immediately and knew exactly who she was. Miss Lardy, now married, had come to see me! All of a sudden I was just a 7-year old child looking up at one of my teachers that I adored! I will never forget that Miss Lardy took the time to come and see me after so many years. I was thrilled and still am!

The second teacher that had an impact on my life is Mr. Doug Pecunier, my 4th Grade teacher. He was so special to me. Growing up I had terrible problems with ear infections which caused a slight hearing loss and I still have problems with auditory phonetics. I just don’t hear slight differences in pronunciation especially concerning consonants. For instance I can’t hear the difference between “pro” and “por”, to me they sound the same. Mr. Pecunier recognized my problem and he was the only teacher to take me aside and work with me and he did this at least once and sometimes twice a week.

As a class we had so much fun and did so many interesting things. We studied world geography and built a miniature desert community and jungle scene in our classroom. We had a reading program that we did in our spare time which consisted of a short story and then taking a small quiz afterwards…I loved it! I was one of the only students to complete the entire reading list.

We moved to Ohio right after the school year ended but I still remember some of the students that were in Mr. Pecunier’s class. David Knight, Brenda Kubick, Bob Besalo, Jim Runyan, and David Low. And I will always remember one of my best friends that year, Maryann Kowloski. I’m not sure if the spelling is correct on Maryann’s last name but I know her father’s name was George and he owned a small grocery store near the corner of Fleming Road and Pierson Road in Flint, MI. There are also several classmates that I can’t remember their full names, Tanya, who I always thought was so intelligent and there was a boy by the last name of Boron, who was Jewish and told us all about Hanukkah. I specifically remember this because it was the first time I ever knew anyone that did not celebrate Christmas!

And last is Mr. Don York, my teacher for US History in my Junior year of High School. I was in the Accelerated Class which I guess means I was smart?? Mr. York taught us many interesting things that year and it was my favorite class. But the most important thing Mr. York did was to teach me how to write a term paper which is why I graduated from college. I was never one to study much but because of the term paper technique that Mr. York taught me I could ACE the term paper and generally the term paper was 1/3 of my grade. Consequently, I never took an academic class that did not require a term paper!

Mr. York’s technique was simple and really was a research and organizing method. And please keep in mind this was way before the Internet, so we had to go to the library for research…but I digress. But instead of taking continuous notes, you wrote down all the quotes and snippets of info, including the source for the footnotes, on 3”by5” cards. Then you put the cards in order and wrote the term paper directly from the cards. I just loved this technique and still use it today.

I think it was a year or so after I graduated from the University of Michigan, I walked into a restaurant for breakfast and I was surprised to see Mr. York, sitting alone at a booth. I walked over to say hello and asked him if I could sit down for a moment. I told him how much I appreciated his term paper method and I thanked him and thanked him and thanked him. Mr. York was rather quiet and just listened as I spoke. There was, and still is, no doubt in my mind that I would never have graduated from college if it had not been for Mr. York.

Being a former teacher myself and having been in the position of having a student thank me for something I taught them years ago, is a very humbling and emotional experience.

The Writer's Challenge, Teachers That Made A Difference in Our Lives...Good or Bad, is hosted by dear, sweet Lori of Family Tree May Contain Nuts. Please visit Family Tree May Contain Nuts to read more interesting stories and snippets of Teacher's that Made a Difference.

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Adrienne said...

as a teacher myself, i am so thrilled to read your blog today! it is uplifting and a huge reminder of why i do what i do. in addition, i will be passing along your term paper hints to my kids (both in secondary school). have a great day!

Kat said...

I really enjoyed this post and it brought back memories of some of the teachers who made a huge difference in my life. You tell the story so well. I did not know you are a teacher. What do you teach?

mrs. c said...

i have been a teacher for almost 30 years and I still get a thrill when my students tell me that I was their favorite teacher. My 3 brothers are all business owners and top-level managment which means they make 3 times the salary I do but what is really intresting is the fact that a couple of years ago my brohter went to a plant where he mananges the clinic and the clinic manager and he are from the same area. Well they got to talking and the manager told my brother that she had gone to a very small rural elementary school and did he know where it was. Mt brother then told her that his sister (me) had started teaching at that same school. Well tears welled up in her eyes and she said that her most favorite teacher of all was her third grade teacher at that school and it was me! My brother is very emotional and he had to call me and tell me and we both cried. He said, Kathy, I may make the money, but you make a difference!

Kayte said...

Such fun to read about this and think about my own memory of favorite teachers who made a difference in my life. I was like you...I looked for classes with TERM PAPERS as I knew that was an easy A for me. Everyone else thought I was nuts. LOL.

Lori E said...

You have been very lucky to have had 3 special teachers. In turn I bet it has made you special teacher as well.
I love that you got to see two of them again and that they knew they had made a difference. Kind of a full circle moment.
Thanks for joining in.

mbkatc230 said...

What a wonderful post. I love that you had so many teachers that were such a positive influence. And I sure wish that I had had Mr. York and his term paper advice! We moved to our town because of the school district, and we were not disappointed. Our daughter has had some of the most wonderful teachers I have ever met. She is 21 and will be graduating from college in May - as a teacher! She still has elementary school teachers recognize her when she is back in town. How special is that? Kathy

hummer said...

You were blessed at having the memory of three teachers that made such a lasting impression on you. You sound like you are a thoughtful and insightful teacher and person. How great that you would say that it is a humbling and emotional experience to have a 'thank you' from a former student.
Sometimes the teachers don't get enough 'thank yous'.
Appreciate your post.

Joanne said...

I smiled through this whole post. Thank you for sharing about your 3 special teachers. Each one made me think they were the best until you got to the next teacher and the next. I am so glad you were able to thank Mr York - that is very cool.

susan said...

Michelle-Thanking your teachers was the best gift you could ever have given them. As a teacher yourself, I am sure you agree with me. Teaching is not a career; it is a calling. I taught high school English and now my daughter teaches kindergarten--and nobody does it for the money! By the way, I pleaded with my students to use your history teacher's method....they were more interested in waiting until the last minute with no index cards or notes! I enjoyed your story!

The Muse said...

Our family is filled with teachers...and all have on thing in common...they love what they do!

To me, that is a blessing and that makes or breaks a teacher~

Your post (as it has been said, by all above), is moving and well written. Evoking memories for everyone :)

Tammy said...

You were blessed to have three wonderful teachers in your life to remember. I love the index cards trick. We were taught this in catholic school as well and it is a life saver for sure. Thanks for having me. Hugs. Tammy

Blondie's Journal said...

How lucky you are to have had so many special teachers and it is nice to reflect on them a bit. They helped shape us whether we liked them or not, But as a teacher, you must know it is what they brought out in class, not as much their personalities...but that helps. :-)


Sweet and Savory said...

I loved reading this post. I have been a teacher and principal for decades and it touches me to hear you thank your former teachers. I had special teachers, in my life, also and they very likely changed the path, I was on, from the shy, unassuming girl to a woman who could run a school.

To this day, it means much to me, when a student tells me of an incident that happened when they were in my class. We never know how we have affected our students and I pray that I have not harmed any.

Thanks for sharing this.

nannykim/spindlecottage said...

It is always nice to see how teachers affect the lives of their students. I had to smile about the last example--I was shown the same method for doing term papers!