seeking | sharing | venting | whatever…ing

Sunday Question

with 10 comments

Alright already!! 🙂 Here’s a belated Sunday question…

What teacher across your educational landscape was your favorite/sticks out in your mind/most influenced you, and why?

Mine was a 9th and 10th grade English and French teacher named Alice Sims. She did not suffer fools gladly, and she expected everyone’s best effort. She did not make learning “fun” per se, and she did not so much teach me “facts,” as much as she taught me how to “learn.” I don’t know if that makes sense. It was like she was the key that unlocked in my head that school is not about regurgitating facts back on tests, it’s about understanding why the facts are important to understanding history and literature and language and communication, etc.

Honestly, school always came very easy to me. I love to learn anyway, and I retained facts well (back when I had a good memory), and didn’t have to study much. Consequently, I could get away with not really applying myself and still get good grades. Somehow, she saw through that and talked to me about how when I got to college, and even later in life, I’d need to learn how to apply myself with discipline and focus to get the things I wanted. That everything wouldn’t be as easy as high school. I’m not sure that the lesson soaked in right then, but I think it did down the road. I appreciate that she cared enough to encourage me like that.

She was also a stickler for discipline. I couldn’t stand classes where the teachers let people act like monkeys, like they were scared to control their own classroom. One thing she had a strict rule about was not “tossing” things in her class. Apparently, she’d had a class where one guy tossed a sharp pencil to another, and he missed it, and it stuck in his eye. That traumatized her…needless to say.

Well, one day, without thinking, from about the middle part of the room during a study session, I took a wadded up piece of paper and tossed it to the trashcan like a basketball. I didn’t even know she was in the room, ’cause she’d left earlier, but she had slipped back in and sat at her desk at the back of the room. So I had to spend time after school sitting my desk and ringing the trashcan 10 times, throwing one piece over and over until I got to 10. I really didn’t mind. We actually had a nice conversation about Gone With the Wind while I was in there. 🙂

When I was living in B’ham, just a few years ago, I found out that she was seriously ill (I forget with what), and was at UAB hospital. I bought a huge bouquet of flowers and went to visit her. She was so very sick and looked so thin and frail (even though she’d always been a thin lady), and I didn’t stay long. She seemed very glad that I came to visit. We really had nothing more than memories of school to talk about, and I knew she had way more important things on her mind, rather than walking down memory lane with me. But I did tell her how much she meant to me and what a fabulous teacher I thought she was and what a good influence she was on me. I was really glad I visited because she died three days later.


Written by blogicalinks

October 15, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Sunday Question

10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Cheryl, great tribute! My favorite teacher was my 4th grade teacher Ms. House. Previously I had this mean as a snake teacher who would punish me by bending back my fingers and striking my palm with a ruler. I never went to kindergarten so I had some odd social skills when I first entered school. Mostly I remember getting caught talking when I wasn’t supposed too. Anyway, Ms House didn’t believe in corporal punishment that was very much still going on in the 70’s. Her favorite motivation was rewards. We got rewarding all the time by getting candy or other surprises. She also gave out points. Every Friday we brought in old toys and other things. We could buy and sell things to each other based on the points we earned. I did so well in her class that I was accepted in the gifted program in that year of school. I believe she had a way way of getting the absolute potential out of children and for her I am very grateful.


    October 15, 2007 at 7:02 pm

  2. Hmmm… Well, there are a few that stand out for various reasons. One was my math teacher who told me that I wore my skirt like a holster – slung off one hip. Then there was my 8th grade science teacher who threw erasers at you if you weren’t listening in class. And my 7th grade science teacher who thought it was a good idea to let the entire seventh grade know about my lack of organizational ability and tell them that I had not one, but FIVE science notebooks. I think I just took notes in whichever one I grabbed as I was rushing to class. I still don’t see a problem with that…

    Really, my favorite teacher was my mom. She often taught me an entire chapter of math the night before a test. You can take a wild guess as to why this was necessary.


    October 15, 2007 at 7:25 pm

  3. That was a really great story about your teacher, Cheryl. I’m so glad you were able to tell her one last time how much she meant to you before she passed.

    Several teachers stand out in my mind too. My first-grade teacher Mrs. Scarborough was so sweet and was the first teacher to strongly believe in me. Her encouragement made me feel like I could do anything.

    In middle school, my art teacher Mr. Gibson was also another big encouragement in my life. He saw my passion for art and pushed me to do more than what he had in his regular curriculum.

    I had some great teachers in high school, which surprised me since high school was my first experience with regular public school. Elementary and middle school were magnet schools. My economics/history teacher Mrs. Hudley stands out in my mind. She didn’t take any lip from anyone. I loved how she ran the classroom with respect.

    Of course, I must mention Flossie, also known as Mrs. Allen. She was my art teacher during my senior year. I wanted so much to dislike her since I was so angry that my other art teacher of the past 3 years was leaving teaching for managing an art store. This was my big year – I had to start looking at colleges and I needed someone who knew me well. Luckily I was all wrong about Flossie. She didn’t have as much of a structure, since she was a bit unorganized in her first year teaching high school. But she did a good job and held it toghether. In that short time, she got to know me on a level that my other HS art teacher never did. We became more than teacher and student: we were good friends. She helped me make unique pieces of art that really expressed who I was more than ever before and she helped me make decisions about college. I will never forget how much she inspired me to be a better person and artist.

    If I get into college, I’ll have to write a lot more. There were several professors that mean a lot to me too. Maybe another night that I have more free time. I’m still working on a project tonight. :/


    October 15, 2007 at 9:13 pm

  4. Hmmm. Fun question. I think I’ve had too many favorite teachers to count. But I do remember once I got in trouble (in like third grade) and had to put my desk next to her desk in front of class (facing the class). I didn’t really mind at all. I think I kind of liked it.


    October 15, 2007 at 10:19 pm

  5. I had a Mrs. Sims that opened up the world for me. Literally. She was a woman who valued travel and showed me that you CAN go anywhere you want to – if you want to and make it a priority. Now that I think about it, she’s the kind of person I would choose as a friend as an adult. My brilliant friend always expected to be the county’s STAR student (as did everyone who knew her) and planned from the 7th grade to name Mrs. Sims as her STAR teacher. Someone moved in during senior year and scored higher on the SAT. I think Nessa was more disappointed at losing the opportunity to honor Mrs. Sims than she was at losing the honor (Well, “losing” isn’t the right term, but we all felt that it HAD been lost for her).

    The other one was my band director. I started the HS band in 8th grade and he became my surrogate father. He really was the central figure in my life for 5 years. He and my church pastor were so important to me. It wasn’t a good time for me and my father.

    I am so glad you went to see her in the hospital. So many people just think about doing something and just don’t DO it. I’m sure it meant the world to her.

    Nice question and I’M SO GLAD YOU POSTED IT!!!

    Ru's Mom

    October 15, 2007 at 11:25 pm

  6. I’m pretty sure i remember every single teacher (heck even most of the substitutes) i ever had for something good or bad about them (mostly good i think, though some rather crazy), so it’s a hard one to narrow down. Though i’ll go with Mrs. Nauer (pronounced Now-er) who was my wonderful kindergarten teacher and has since died. She’s the one who wrote in a mid-term progress report that i was “a very interesting child. whenever something funny happens in class and everyone is laughing, i look over at her and she has a completely straight face.” (or something to that effect since i don’t have it in front of me and this was something i didn’t see until a few years ago when my mom came across it) It seems as if Mrs. Nauer figured me out early on…and as they say, ain’t nuthin’ changed, ain’t nuthin’ changed 😉 See my early comment on some other entry about “LOL” and you’ll see how true her comments were i suppose!


    October 15, 2007 at 11:47 pm

  7. Great post!

    I had several memorable teachers, too. The one that stands out the most ws Mr. Osbourne, 11th-grade history and 12th-grade government. In his spare time, Os was an Air Force Reserve intelligence officer – so you can imagine that he and I had some fun conversations! Both years, his was my first class of the morning, so if I got there early, we’d chat about current events. He liked pranks, and even kept a loaded water pistol in his desk…just in case. One morning, a few of us got there early, and while he was off getting coffee, we turned all the desks around in the room. He walked into a full room of people’s backs. And, of course, the first word out of his mouth: “KAPLANNNNN!” But he was a great educator. He retired a few years ago, just before my niece started high school. She won’t have the thrill of having class with Os.

    My 11th- and 12th-grade English teacher, Ms. Sims, stands out because she encouraged my writing. We had daily journals we had to do for her. I hated them! But after the first quarter, when I got mine back from grading, I realized that she actually read my entries (and commented back). Wooo-hooo – an audience! That just made me want to write more. (hey, whaddaya know – the ‘prehistoric’ blog!)

    And my 11th- and 12th-grade graphic arts teacher, Mr. Garvin. He and I connected on a different level, perhaps because anytime I skipped class, usually ended up in front of that newfangled thing in his classroom called a “Mac”. So I became his go-to guy for desktop publishing on Pagemaker, and helped him out of a few jams. But he still made sure to teach me the rest of the graphic-arts world, too, and would have made a great mentor had I chosen that career path instead of Engineering.

    Thanks for helping dig up some great old memories!


    October 16, 2007 at 6:03 am

  8. I guess Ms. Sims gets around!


    October 17, 2007 at 6:18 am

  9. Thank you for making this post about Miss Sims. She was one of my favorite teachers at THS and I always wondered what happened to her. I am glad that you were able to visit with her in her final days.

    R. Boddie


    August 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: