Friday, August 29, 2008

To celebrate the opening season of School Year '08-'09, Laura over at Catholic Teacher Musings has invited us to share our remembrances of our favorite teachers today. This is such a wonderful idea! What a pleasure to reminisce about all the teachers I've known, but, boy, it's hard to narrow down the list. I've had so many favorite teachers, some my own, some who have been my children's...

Can you bear with me while I go through the short list?

First ~ through the mists of time, way back to 1974...

Our family was stationed in Charleston, SC and we had to ride the bus 45 minutes to get from the NWS base to Divine Redeemer School. I was in fifth grade, so I got to be in Mrs. Charlotte Whamond's class. Everyone wanted to be in the fifth grade at DRS ~ partly because that classroom was housed all by itself on top of the hill in the old convent in the trees ~ but mostly, it was because everyone wanted to be in Mrs. Whamond's class.

Mrs. Whamond was famous. She was young and pretty, with big brown eyes and short, dark, curly hair and she always dressed 1970s hip, but modest. We ten year old girls appreciated and learned from that! Most days, instead of playing, our class sat on the steps of the convent during recess to laugh and talk with Mrs. W ~ and pull her grey hairs out for her. Imagine! I can't help but smile at that picture of us. But she would joke with us and tease us and teach us as much by sitting on those porch steps as she did in the classroom.

Mrs. Whamond made everything fun. If she could teach using a game, she'd find a way. We had quizzes and plays, experiments and competitions. She gave us afternoons off and called them "nature study," sometimes just because the weather was nice, sometimes because it was really nature study. But we learned. How we learned! And how we loved her! We made sure we knew all the facts she wanted us to learn, just to please her.

You see, we understood that she loved us. We weren't just students to her. She treated us like people, confided in us when she had troubles, apologized to us when she made a mistake, and made a point to know each of us personally. I'm sure that every one of us who had the fortune to be in Mrs. Whamond's class remembers her today. I hope she knows how much she meant to us. If anyone knows where Charlotte Whamond is today, please tell her!

Now, hang on tight for just another minute, please. I have to zoom forward at light speed through the classrooms of the teaching Sisters I've had the blessing to know. I wrote about them at length a few months ago, but didn't mention any by name, and I feel like I should, so here they are:

+ Sr. Agnese, my first grade teacher at Divine Redeemer ~ who praised me for my smooth reading (Isn't it funny how you remember those things? That was more than 35 years ago!). Sister had the softest grey eyes and sweet smile, and floated around the room, liting over our desks like a dark blue angel... She was my first experience with a nun, and it was a very good start!

+ The library Sister at Holy Trinity, whose name I am ashamed to say I have forgotten because she always remembered my name, and my taste in books. She directed me to Frances Parkinson Keyes when I was in the fourth grade.

+ Sr. Alice at Our Lady of Victory when I was in 10 grade, who taught Catechism through real life stories, made the world's best banana pancakes and who trusted me to glaze the raised doughnuts.

+ Sr. Rita Lawrence at Our Lady of Victory, the smartest, most talented, most interesting woman I think I've ever met; the teacher who taught me how to teach. (God bless her soul; we recently learned that she has passed away.)

+ Sr. Kazamiera, who taught our children at Holy Guardian Angels, whose enthusiasm for teaching, for the Faith and for life in general is wonderfully contagious ~ Sister has a joke for every occasion, and a good bit of wisdom, too. Her influence on our children will be lifelong, and I hope our friendship is lifelong, too.

+ Sr. Alice Marie, our dear friend from Holy Guardian Angels, the true friend of the Little Flower, who taught us all more with her little jokes, her smiling eyes and her simple sweetness than she will ever know.

+ Sr. Mary Agnes, another dear teacher (the former principal) from Holy Guardian Angels, who has touched our lives forever, imprinting on us through her example a tender love for Our Lord ~ and a special appreciation and affection for herself.

Looking back I can see that the key ingredient shared by all these wonderful teachers was love for their students ~ and love for their mission in teaching. Being blessed to have grown up in Catholic schools, I also know that this love was rooted in love for God. None of these teachers showed up to school just to collect a paycheck. I hope that they know how much their hard work and dedication through the years has paid off in souls. God bless every one of them! Our prayers today are for all of our teachers.

Correction: My sister pointed out that I made a mistake up there! Thanks, Nina! She's right; I didn't have Sr. Agnese in Divine Redeemer. We went to St. Pius X between my 1st and 3rd grade years. Oops. Nobody but one of my sibs would know, but I have to set the record straight. There ya go, sis! &;o)


Laura said...

You know that sore throat thing (lump) you get when you are trying not to cry?
I have that.
Thank you for this post.

Cheryl Lage said...

Omigosh...God bless them all, indeed! What a blessing to have had so many impactful, inspiring women as teachers.

Thank you for sharing their commitment with such caring. :)

Aimee said...

I had so many dedicated sisters as my teachers as well, and it is easy to see that teaching was their vocation, not their job.
It's sad that my children now have no access to them because we don't have any religious in our school. Not enough to go around :(

SuzyQ said...

"Looking back I can see that the key ingredient shared by all these wonderful teachers was love for their students ~ and love for their mission in teaching."
I truly think that is what makes a great teacher. Love has such an effect on a child.
Thankyou for sharing these wonderful memories of such wonderful teachers :0)

Bia said...

Wow. You have really been blessed with some wonderful teachers.

I love the idea of a library sister...two of my favorite things (books and sisters) lumped together!

Blessings, and have a wonderful weekend.

GrandmaK said...

I think that you have touched every part of my being. Quick story. In second grade at St. Mary's School there was a sister who taught my dad, Billy, when he was in school at St. Catherine's. As soon as she knew who I was she would speak to me at recess or in the cafeteria. It made me feel special. My only regret is that I never got to experience her methods in the classroom as Daddy said he had liked her very much as a student as well. Enough!!! Cathy