I5BOTD 3/9/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:


And I'm going to answer the question she poses in her current top post:

The teachers who changed my life were Mrs. Smallidge, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Quitadamo, Dr. Bartlett and Mr. Mirakian.

Mrs. Smallidge was my first grade teacher. I loved her so much that I gave her a hug every morning when I saw her and every afternoon when I got on the bus. She played the violin and read us great books. After my mother sent her a note telling her that I shouldn't bring home any library books, Mrs. Smallidge started buying me books that I could keep in the classroom. She made me feel loved and special.

Mr. Walsh was my 10th grade English teacher. He saw right away that I was a lazy student, getting effortless A's in English, so he started giving me extra projects. They weren't all brain challenging - one extra assignment he gave me was to document every simile and metaphor in The Great Gatsby - but he made me work hard enough that it became habitual for me to exert some effort. He also wouldn't let me sit quietly in the back of the class - he made me (and all my classmates) stand when we spoke, and challenged us to defend our views.

Mr. Quitadamo had to be in last couple of years of teaching when I had him for Public Speaking. He had polio as a child and walked with the aid of braces. But his enthusiasm for teaching hadn't dimmed one iota. He encouraged me to learn about topics that weren't immediately interesting to me - which is how I ended up giving my final exam speech, a 45 minute long speech, on etymology. And he made me feel valued at a time when I was feeling very poorly about myself.

I had Dr. Bartlett for Contemporary Issues, but she really taught critical thinking. She taught us how to read newspaper articles, how to determine the veracity of the news we saw on TV, how to look for the basic questions journalists are supposed to answer, how real events of history get muddled, how major events of the 20th century were ignored by history books (we were each given 6 different history textbooks, and when we studied a current event, we were also given similar events of the past to research in each of the history books. Of my six books, all published in the early 80's, only 4 of them mentioned Watergate, and only a cursory mention at that.)

And Mr. Mirakian was my high school chorus teacher. He changed my life because he showed me compassion, he showed me I deserved respect, and he made me feel like I wasn't such a bad singer after all.

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