The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher

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{ tweet by @ericweiskott }
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So which public school teacher inspired and encouraged me the most?  Who had, and still has, the greatest influence on who I am today?

{ drum roll please }

My answer would be: Mrs. L——-, my high school sophomore English teacher.

She was the first teacher to ever tell me I knew how to write.  All the other teachers before her, many good women and men, assumed we kids didn’t know what we were doing.  But not Mrs. L——-, whose first + middle name was Clover May.

By the time I had Clover May she was nearing retirement– and didn’t give a rat’s tutu about what she was supposed to teach or how to teach it.  She’d done this teaching gig for so long that she intuitively knew how to get kids to write.

So instead of closely following any textbooks or lesson plans, Clover May would tell us funny little stories from her own life*, then have us tell a similar story from our lives… in writing.

She believed anyone could write.  It wasn’t a big deal.  All you had to do was talk about what happened & BE SPECIFIC.  Details like grammar and spelling could always be adjusted after you wrote down what happened specifically.

Yes, Clover May believed in all of us and our ability, perhaps yet untapped, to write a good story… as long as you were specific.

• • •

* One of Mrs. L——-‘s funniest stories had to do with her given name.  From day one she insisted that we kids know her full name.  While decorum dictated that we call her Mrs. L——-, she believed we should know her first + middle name because this was an example of how to BE SPECIFIC.

So when Mrs. L——- discovered that one of her less-than-enthusiastic students could not remember her name correctly, she was ready to be perturbed.  However, she couldn’t be upset with this kid, who apparently lived on a farm, because the way he confused her name was so clever that she had to laugh.

You see, this kid, who had been sort of listening to what she said, thought that Clover May’s name was… Alfalfa June.

• • •

QUESTION OF THE DAY

If you went to public schools, who was your favorite teacher? And why?

• • •

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted most days.

71 thoughts on “The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher”

    1. Thanks, Maggie. Clover May made a good impression on me at a time when I was awkward and shy– and there she was bold and hilarious. And she believed in me. Go figure!

      You know, every so often someone will tweet something that demands more than a tweet-y response. This was one of those times.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Funny! “Alphalfa June”!! I have to say my favorite teacher was Mrs. Felton, my sixth grade teacher. She was exactly who I needed at that time. I was so shy and had just learned that I needed glasses. I hated them (and still do)! Mrs. Felton was so calming and reassuring. She made each one of us feel worthy and smart. She also called me Elizabeth, which no one else ever did because I really didn’t like it. I always went by Beth. She loved the name Elizabeth and made me feel like it was a beautiful name. She also gave us many art lessons, which I loved! I truly believe she started me on my path to being an artist. I will always remember her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth [or shall I call you Elizabeth?], I can understand why you liked Mrs. Felton so much. She sounds perfect– that calm and reassuring part is always good. We did lots of art in 6th grade, too. HOWEVER, with me it didn’t stick like it has with you. I say “three cheers” to Mrs. Felton and your launch as an artist.

      Like

  2. I have an amazing teacher from highschool and 7 years ago I decided to throw him a reunion. We’ve done it every year since and we invite all the students he ever taught. It’s pretty cool. We have even had students from another school that he taught at attend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mr. Natale, 7th grade Science. Until this class, I had only a mediocre interest in science in favor of technology. He made the connection for me that without science, there would be no technology, therefore learning science and it’s methods allowed me to fundamentally understand technology. An amazing man that inspired me more than he could have ever known, something that I regret not being able to tell him. The passion he ignited in me to commit to life long learning is something I’m instilling in my daughter, who has started taking an interest in both science and technology. STEM is something that we do *together*, ours, a mutual interest where we both learn new things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, Mr. Natale sounds like the perfect teacher for you at the perfect moment in your life. It’s easy to see the connection between science and technology as an adult, but it takes a smart person to explain that to a child. I adore that you and your daughter are doing STEM together as your fun. She’ll treasure that time you had together as she gets older. How cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadly I don’t have anyone specific. My math teacher (who no one else liked) challenged me and with more encouragement (perhaps with different sex genitalia) I’d be an engineer (yes, I was that good at it). Back then it was always assumed that the “girls’ would be teachers, secretaries or wives and no one encouraged them to pursue a career. It wasn’t until I was working when I found a mentor who told me I could do whatever I wanted and coached me along the way. It was pivotal. I love that in schools today, kids can explore subjects they are both interested in and good at. Let’s hope that doesn’t change. I wouldn’t want it to go back to the “old days.” BTW despite the fact that I was straight “A’s” in English and composition, no one encouraged me to write.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, I went through a small town school system that, like yours, assumed we girls, if we went to college, would be nurses or teachers. Then get married. I only ended up not doing what was assumed because my parents were well-educated and encouraged me to do whatever. That being said, Clover May was influential in helping me confirm that there was a life beyond high school– and I could be part of it.

      On the flip side, I never found a work mentor like you did to help me find a career, so I missed out on that experience entirely. Lots of working, no career. Fortunately, like you said today’s kids have so many opportunities to explore subjects that were never, ever offered to us. They’ll go far.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree. If I hadn’t gone to college it would have been assumed that I’d be a secretary, which didn’t pay well at all. My small school district provided an adequate education, but was conservative in all things, including the proper path for a girl post high school. Different times…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I started as a secretary, went to college at night and moved into human resources. My mentor kept pushing me to volunteer to lead projects. His best advice was that to get ahead you have to be good at your current job (which by the way was super boring). Remembering that some positions are just steps along the way saved my sanity a few times.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I think I would have made a good secretary, but my mother was determined that I should leave town and go to college elsewhere. Which I did, and never went back “home” again. Your mentor sounds wonderful, btw. Such good advice.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fun story – and a wonderful teacher. I’ve had many good teachers over the years and a few bad ones. My high school trig and calculus teacher, Gus Baker, had a wonderful sense of humor and taught me that math was just puzzles with numbers. It could be fun instead of anxiety provoking. And after a year of algebra II with one of those bad teachers, it was an important. and timely, lesson to learn. Plus he put up with me! He once let me reschedule a test because I told him that I didn’t feel like taking it since it was raining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zazzy, I like your Gus Baker. He sounds like the sort of teacher who knew how to get through to kids, and then respected them enough to let them bend the rules a little bit. My math education stopped at Algebra I, so I’m in awe of you for going as far as you did.

      Like

  6. Favorite public school teacher – I think that has to be Mr. H________, Senior English. He was a great fan of Joseph Conrad, so we sor of rushed through The Mayor Of Casterbridge and a couple of other things to get to The Heart Of Darkness. The movie “Apocalypse Now” makes a lot more sense if you have already read the book. He also encouraged us to talk back and argue with him, even if it sometimes resulted in him throwing chalk board erasers and taking frequent swigs of Malox from the big bottle of it in his desk for his ulcer. When he was out sick with that ulcer we made the substitute’s life miserable. She actually thought there was a Lesson Plan and such silliness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bobcabkings, your Senior English teacher sounds like he and Clover May would have been good friends. Chugging Maalox while teaching in a free-form style is memorable. She’d be onboard with that. Very specific. 😉

      I studied Heart of Darkness in college. In fact, it was my senior oral thesis topic, meaning I had to defend my take on it [whatever that was] before 3 PhDs. Talk about stress…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Becky, I wondered if you had Clover May, too. She was a character. Thanks for the Mom compliment. Her daughter, “a kid,” appreciates it. Always fun to hear from you– not just because you flatter me. 🙂

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  7. Proud to say almost my entire education was spent in the public school system with the exception of an experimental two years in a parochial school which was a decision made more out convenience than religious leanings. While there, I had a number of great teachers although the names of my senior year English and high school German teachers would be at the top of that list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allie P, public schools are without a doubt overall a wonderful concept. I never had the chance to go to a parochial school, although I did go to liberal arts universities for college. I find it interesting how many people can pick out at least one public school teacher who helped him or her get to where they are today. Your choice of English teacher doesn’t surprise me, but German…? How cool is that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I took his class for all four years and he was hilarious (whether or not he intended to be). His wife, also a German speaker, used to write questions for the German version of Jeopardy and had some amusing stories to tell.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Too many to pick just one: Mrs. Zeiger/Kindergarten, who reminded me of my paternal grandmother. Miss Mickey/3rd grade, my first ‘young’ teacher who was full of new ideas. Mrs. McCormick/5th grade, who had an amazing smile and hair put up in this movie star bun thing that was amazing. Mr. Wahle/6th grade, who told me that I had potential when I wrote my first mystery story. The list is endless really: Miss Petrie, Mr. Ruble, Mr. Downing, Mrs. Hoonan, Mr. Houser… seems as if I was very fortunate indeed. Here’s a public, and very sincere thank you to all of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, that’s an amazing list. You were lucky to have so many positive influences in your young life thanks to your public school system.

      Love the teacher with the hairstyle that caught your 5th grade fancy. Oddly enough my 5th grade teacher wore her hair in a French Twist– but she was as old as the hills and her hair looked like a gray frizzy mess. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I can remember most of my high school teachers and can only remember one that I didn’t like, but I’d have to say the one that stands out was my geography teacher (at least I think that’s what he taught) – he looked like Steve McQueen and all I could do was stare at him. He was also the baseball coach and years later I saw him at a Giant’s game. He was working for the team in some capacity and he happened to see me in the stands AND REMEMBERED ME! Even though I was with my husband, I could still feel the flush come to my face. Such a hottie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, that’s a great story! A crush is a crush is a crush… regardless of your age. I don’t remember the names of most of my high school teachers. I left town immediately after high school and never moved back, but the few teachers who I do remember I think on fondly. There were some good ones in there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, there! I found you(r blog) at Susie’s. Yours is the first entry at her Valentine’s Day Party. So, early bird gets the eyeballs! It was nice reading about Mrs L—, you folks were surely lucky to have met her.

    My favourite teacher was a disciple of a disciple of T S Eliot, and I was his favourite pupil, but it didn’t work out well for me.

    Like

    1. Hello umashankar! Thanks for stopping by. Susie throws great parties, doesn’t she?

      I’m sorry things didn’t work out well with your favorite teacher. That’s tricky. I remember studying T S Eliot in college, but in high school we weren’t so sophisticated.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Haha, see the details win again, Mrs. L–! Alfalfa June. Bless, there probably is a child called that.
    I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite, I’ve had so many superb teachers who impressed great things upon me. So many. Elementary, History, French, English, Lit, Music — ALL public school teachers. My husband and I are so certain our education was exemplary, we put our own kids back into the same school system.
    They’ll even have a few of the same teachers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joey, laughing here. You’re probably right that there is/was a child named Alfalfa June. I mean, if there’s a Clover May, then why not?

      My public school education was good for the time and place with many sincerely devoted teachers who meant well. It was a small conservative town and the curriculum was not the most advanced. But I won’t complain, because I was able to get into a private university and hold my own there– with a little extra study to catch up to my peers.

      It’s fun that your kids are in the same system you went through. That rarely happens anymore. How trippy will it be to see your old teachers as a parent?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ally Bean with the private university education 😀 Must be why your grammar’s always top-notch!
        I think it’s going to be awesome. Sassy has been instructed to inform her lyceum instructor that she is the product of Jolene Packard and Jason Mottern, and I cannot wait to hear his response! 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Mrs. McMillian, Mrs. Queen, and my Semantics teacher in the 7th grade, who I think might have been Ms. Jennifer….something or other. Then there was Mr. Reinke and Mr. Downard who made science and math (respectively) something I could understand / enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dana, so many good teachers! It’s amazing how you can remember them right off the top of your head. That’s a good sign. Wish I’d have had Mr. Downard for math, I never quite understood it past Algebra I.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I wish I had an interesting response to this post. I’m sure if I had a Clover May in my background, I’d remember her too.

    I would say the most memorable teacher I had – on the positive scale – would have been my English teacher when I was a senior in High School. He was also coach for the girl’s senior basketball team.

    I was an abysmal basketball player, but I loved the game and understood it better than any of the players (don’t tell my sister that, she was one of the star players 😉 ). In spite of my inability to throw or catch a ball, he made me part of the team … as a *go-fer*.

    I learned from him that a really good leader recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and positions them so that their strengths shine and their weaknesses are covered.
    That was true of me and of each player on the team … which is why we were district champions in spite of being a small school with a small team on only 7 players … 8 in a pinch if you counted me 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, what a wonderful memory about your teacher/coach. His example of how to be a leader is perfect– applicable to any team. Funny how you knew more about the game than your sister! So glad that this teacher picked up on that and found you a place on the team.

      Congrats on winning the district championship. I hear it was the 8th girl on the team who made it happen. 😉

      Like

  14. Love this topic! I have three favorites that come to mind:

    My first grade teacher, Miss Miller, was extremely creative and made learning fun for all of us who were lucky enough to be in her class. I wrote a post about her last May because about ten of us, her former students, got together and treated her to a Thank You lunch (she’s in her 80s now and going strong). She was thrilled and we had a great time reminiscing about her class and other grade school memories.

    My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Stevens, was a hoot. He also made learning fun and was the first teacher who treated us like responsible “adults” (I know we really weren’t adults, but he encouraged us to make our own decisions and to practice critical thinking).

    I had a junior high school English teacher (I can’t remember her name) who once pulled me aside and told me that I wasn’t working up to my potential. I remember feeling embarrassed and defensive… but she was absolutely right. After our talk, I re-focused on my studies and became a much better student. I probably owe my high GPA and eventual graduation with honors to her, because she cared enough to kick me in the rear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, those are all great examples of wonderful public school teachers. Miss Miller is the perfect name for a 1st grade teacher. I bet it was delightful to get together with her after all these years. You’re the second commenter to mention doing something like that.

      I enjoy hearing about teachers, like Mr. Stevens, who encourage critical thinking. That’s a life skill that can’t be taught too early.

      How fortunate for you that you listened to the teacher who took the time to tell you to do better. Amazing how one adult who cares can propel a child to great things. Good on you for doing so well.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I hadn’t thought about it until I read through your post, but one of my 6th grade teachers Mrs W., probably had the most profound impact on my formative education. Her thing was spelling (for somewhat similar reasons I suspect, as she argued that paying close attention to the way we formed our words would help us to become better writers). Anyway, she took an interest in a girl I had a crush on, which involved training for an upcoming Spelling Bee. I seized an opportunity to get some quality time with the girl-of-my-dreams by tagging along for the after school training sessions. (I was the REALLY cool kid in elementary school right?)

    Anyway, my dreams of winning the girl were never realized, but I somehow found my way into the Spelling Bee, which undoubtedly fostered a love of writing that has survived quite a few other interests that have since fallen to the wayside.

    Now we have speed check, so I can finally start devoting my attention to learning some of the finer points about riting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gabe, what a fun story of young unrequited love and the need to spell. I can see how you accidentally fell into a Spelling Bee: if chicks dig it, you did it, right?

      I bet the Mrs. W. never would have thought that she was starting you on the path to writing, but would be delighted to know that she did. Sixth grade true love may have passed you by, but words have stayed with you.

      Now about this riting you mentioned… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I had the good fortune of having a few junior high classes with Mr. Schroeder, who happened to win Disney’s nationwide Teacher of the Year Award a few years after I’d moved on to high school. Very strange and eccentric… his classroom looked a lot like my computer room does right now full of strange trinkets and curiosities, and the lessons were always bizarre but very creative and fun. I’ll never forget the field trip we took to a funeral home as part of our learning about death and dying in a (ahem, cough, hack) gifted class I had with him. How many 13 year old kids even think they’re ever going to die, let alone get a (non-graphic, thankfully!) behind the scenes tour of what happens when your time does come…

    I don’t think he’d be as welcome in the more structured and standardized culture of public schools today, and that’s a shame…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. evilsquirrel13, Mr. Schroeder sounds wacky and confident in his ability to teach/live by his own rules. Very impressive that he was Disney Teacher of the Year.

      My school system didn’t believe in field trips so no teacher even had the chance to take a bunch of kids to a funeral home. I don’t know whether to envy you your experience OR thank my lucky stars that I didn’t have Mr. Schroeder. 0.o

      Like

  17. I had wonderful teachers all through public school. In elementary school, especially, all of them were my favourites because I worshipped them all. In kindergarten, Miss Osborne was so kind and pretty and let me read the class stories during naptime. Miss Telloni in first grade made cupcakes in ice cream cones and was always so bouncy and cheerful. In second grade, Miss Marino let me grade papers for her. The list is endless. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher myself, so I always felt in awe of teachers. I could study them and decide what kind of Teacher I would be.

    I’m especially grateful to Mrs. Moore, my Advanced Comp and Brit Lit teacher in high school. She was unrelentingly tough and uncompromisingly demanding of accuracy and excellence. She had a big hand in the teacher and writer I became. And I was fortunate enough to be able to tell her so after I became a teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nance, your elementary teachers all sound lovely. I can see how you worshipped them and wanted to be one. Words and cupcakes, what’s not to love? I, too, was in awe of some of my teachers– they knew so much and I wanted to, too.

      Mrs. Moore sounds like the opposite of Clover May. Funny how different kids respond to different personalities. Mrs. Moore would have done me in when I was in high school, but she is the prototype of the professors I had throughout college.

      So cool that you got to tell her how much you appreciated her influence on you. Teachers need to hear that sort of thing.

      Like

  18. My favorite teacher was my freshman year English teach Mr. Rubin. It was my first day of high school and my first class. I went to a small grade school with 50 kids in my grade and at this high school i had 1300 so I was nervous. When I walked into Mr Rubin’s class he was blasting Led Zeppelins “Misty Mountain Hop” because we had to read the Hobbit over the summer. The song has references to the Hobbit throughout it. I knew it was going to be a good class. He also constantly said that “grades do not define you” which was something that I needed to hear at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. historyoftelephony, Mr. Rubin sounds like the right teacher for you at the right time. I like your Mr. Rubin. He sounds like he and Clover May would have hit it off. Cool that he incorporated pop music with good literature. That’s the way to get and maintain a kid’s attention!

      I wish someone had told me that “grades do not define you.” I don’t know if I would have believed them back then, but I might have been less anxious about academics.

      Like

  19. Alfalfa June – that’s a great name! I went to a small high school and had lots of great teachers, but my favorite would have to be my English teacher because he came up with all kinds of crazy ways to bring out our creativity. Another favorite was a marine biology teacher, but I didn’t like the smelly dissections we had to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sheila, any teacher who can find a crazy way to get kids to think is a good one. Creativity comes from the offbeat. I took biology [not marine] and I remember dissecting frogs. Icky, icky, icky. Not sure exactly what that experience taught me…

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I had many favorite teachers, but the one who inspired me was my 9th grade French teacher, who was actually a Spanish teacher, and who is a close friend to this day. I taught with her for many years, and now we’re part of a ladies group of teachers who celebrate birthdays and go out together. Connections can be magic.

    Like

    1. Margaret, you really connected with your favorite public school teacher! Living where you grew up obviously contributes to that, but you had to want to stay in touch with her. That is unique and cool. My favorite teacher will always be a memory for me.

      Like

  21. My favorite schoolteacher was my 8th grade Language Arts teacher, and she’s my favorite because she encouraged me to write too! I was one of those quiet, unpopular kids and she was the most popular teacher in the whole school. When she made quite lovely comments about my writing–in front of other students–those kids were suddenly nice to me! They wanted to read the things I wrote–all because someone they respected was paying positive attention to me. I can’t tell you how much she helped raise me up.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, that’s one of the nicest public school teacher memories yet! Thanks for sharing. I can understand how her attention turned into social gold for you. I’m constantly amazed by how it only takes one particular teacher to get a child on the right path to their future.

      Like

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