Sunday, May 11, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week

Guys, I'm sitting in my living room with the window and back door open. The breeze is blowing in, the sun is shining, it's a gorgeous day. Life is good!

This past week was crazy, but it was also Teacher Appreciation Week. The high school student council and elementary school PTAs went all out to make sure we had a good week... most things involved food, but my favorite thing all week was dress-down day on Wednesday. YEAH!

Anyway, I wanted to write a few things about my teachers and how they have inspired me.

1. My preschool teachers should be lauded for their patience, as I changed my own name in preschool every week. This resulted in a bunch of paintings labeled with different names. (SMH...) We also got to do lots of cool things in preschool with singing and painting. I was in the paper taking a test that involved shaking film canisters (Yes - FILM CANISTERS) and guessing what was making the noise inside of them.

In case you forgot what those bad boys looked like. 

2. Mrs. Conway, my kindergarten teacher, let me read books to the class, and that was cool. I also remember that when we were learning about the different letters of the alphabet, she would go into a closet in the room and come back out all dressed up in some way to reflect the letter. We also did "kite journals" in kindergarten, where we each got a kite for a weekend. So some creative and fun things there!

3. Mrs. Baronner, my first grade teacher- when I think of her, I think of these:

I remember doing "Chicken Soup with Rice" with Mrs. Baronner. She would read out of the big book and we would listen to the record (yes, the record) and sing and dance along.

4. Mrs. Mills, my second grade teacher, was one of the only teachers who made science interesting to me. I distinctly remember doing a project involving wires, batteries, and lightbulbs, and being transfixed by it all.

5. Miss Hower, my third grade teacher, loved art, and when she found out I did art lessons, let me bring in my artwork and display it in the classroom. In her class we did a unit on different kinds of produce, where we each had to go to the store and get some kind of fruits or vegetables and bring in to share with the class. I had parsnips, and they were delicious!

6. Mrs. Bossi, my fourth grade teacher, was one of my favorite teachers, EVER. She had a fantastic sense of humor and was very encouraging in the areas of art and music. I have so many fond memories of her class that it's difficult to make just one. I will tell you that we had several gaseous boys in our class that year, and one of them gave her air freshener as a Christmas present. It was funny later in the year during standardized testing because something went wrong with the HVAC unit above our room and it sounded, well, like farting. Mrs. Bossi grabbed the can of air freshener and ran out into the hallway, spraying furiously. It was a good break from those stupid, stupid tests. : ) Mrs. Bossi also taught me the important life lesson of gift wrapping!

7. Mr. Neugebauer was my fifth grade teacher and his last name was one of our first spelling words. I also know him from church, where we have both gone since I was born. Mr. N. was loud and sarcastic, and also kind of strict, but I enjoyed having him as a teacher. We did a huge project called "Historic Probe" where we were each assigned a historical (usually Revolutionary War-era) figure and had to do extensive research, culminating in a presentation where we had to dress up like the person and be asked questions by an interview panel of other students. I was Abigail Adams.

In case you didn't know, she was pretty cool.

8. Mr. Jones was my 6th grade teacher, affectionately known as "Dr. J." Once, a friend and I got sick of playing four-square with the other girls at recess and decided we wanted to play baseball with the boys. The boys wouldn't let us play, so we complained to the teacher (my husband interjects "Narc!" at this point). Mr. Jones told the boys they could let us play or not play at all, so the boys threw down their stuff and left the field. After that, the boys had to stay inside during recess for the rest of the week. 

9. With 7th grade came junior high school and many teachers at a time - but my favorite in 7th grade was probably Mrs. Burlingame, my reading teacher. We did so many fun projects in her class and she made learning fun. (Also, I love reading.) She also put me and my friend J. in charge of the school's website, so that was a neat responsibility to have. 

10. In 8th grade, I had Mrs. Burlingame again, which was awesome. I also liked my American studies teacher, Mrs. Salimbene- she was young and fun. I remember doing a lot of vocab in her class. 

11. 9th grade was a fantastic year for teachers. I started coming into my own in the music program then, so I really enjoyed my music teachers- Mrs. Connell, Mrs. Perchy, and Mr. Yon. I had Mrs. Salimbene again as a student council adviser. I retained very little in Biology, but my bio teacher, Mr. Swalga, was big on life lessons. (I have so many stories from his class. So many.) My geometry teacher, Mr. Lightner, was very high-energy and best buds with Mr. Swalga. They were our class advisers, and of course I was on that committee too, so I worked with them a lot. My English teacher, Mrs. Casillo, was also fun- we had a small class that was all band students, since the other Honors English class met during band period. 

We watched WSS in English in 9th grade, and most of the trivia tidbits I know about this movie are due to Mrs. Casillo's commentary during the movie. 

12. In 10th grade I had an English teacher, Mrs. Lowe, who made us WORK. I learned so much about writing and critically reading in her class. Some of my fondest memories of her class are of playing Taboo - it was a fun way to expand vocabulary. : ) I also had AP American History that year with Mr. Ergler. That guy knew how to motivate a class. Our assignments were crazy intense, but he volunteered his own time to come in before school to study with whoever wanted to do so for weeks before the AP Exam. I took advantage of those sessions and wound up with a 4 on my AP Test, so I didn't have to take any history in college, and I am still grateful for his time and help.

Mr. Ergler always said "George Warshington" instead of Washington.

13. In eleventh grade I had Mrs. Suder for English and Mr. Zolnak for history. Mrs. Suder had foreign words of the day, and I soaked all that stuff up - coup d'etat, charge d'affairs, carpe diem, etc. She encouraged me in my writing and I won an award for an essay contest at PSU that year. Mr. Zolnak demanded excellence, and nothing less. He was a little bit eccentric, but I learned a lot in his class.

14. As a senior, my most influential teacher was Mrs. Brown, my English teacher. She was another intense teacher with high expectations, but I loved her class and her personality. In my yearbook she wrote "To K., a true Renaissance woman." I got really high grades on my papers as a college freshman thanks to her preparation. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Mr. Detwiler, my band teacher from 10th through 12th grade. Now, as a band director, I wish I'd paid more attention to how he taught things and managed us when I was his student. I have a whole new appreciation for everything he had to balance. A lot of what I do is influenced by my own experience in band, and I am grateful to have had such a great leader. Ms. Helsman, my elementary music teacher, was also a big influence on my decision to become what I am today.

One of the reasons I'm writing this post today, on Mother's Day, is because my mother is also a teacher and she has been one of the greatest teachers of them all. Growing up with a mom who is a teacher... she spent so much time grading tests, checking homework, going through projects, lesson planning, designing bulletin boards, going on field trips, and all of the other necessary components of being a teacher. Yet she always had time for me and my brother; to help us study, and with our projects, and to just have fun with us. I saw all of the hard work she did outside of the classroom and it didn't scare me away from being a teacher. I started college as an elementary education major and then switched to music, but I knew I wanted to teach, and that is mostly thanks to the amazing example my mother has set and continues to set for me. This weekend she was completely immersed in papier mache, sent me a picture of the kitchen full of balloons coated in newspaper, to make masks for the musical their sixth grade is doing. She's still going above and beyond. 

So, thanks mom, for being the best teacher I could have ever asked for!

To all of my teachers, whether I liked you or not - and vice versa - thank you for all you have done to shape me into the person I am, and props to you for all you have done and continue to do.

Even though this week is not technically Teacher Appreciation Week, hopefully you can take a minute and think about your teachers and how they have helped you to get where you are.


  1. As a fellow teacher, I can't help but express how much I love this post! :) I love how you recalled special things about the teachers you had in school. (And I apologize that I'm over a week behind on my blog reading! Things have been so busy lately!!)

    1. GIRL, I hear you. I haven't booted up my computer in days. We'll get caught up in the summer! : )