School is starting up all over the country. It’s the time for #2 pencils, matching lunch boxes and backpacks and at least one outfit that makes either the mother or the daughter roll her eyes. It’s also time to say thanks for the special teachers who helped shape our lives.
Mrs. Catherine Chatten taught my fifth grade English class. I can still remember two distinct assignments from Mrs. Chatten. In a letter-writing segment we were to write to a famous person, seeking information from that person. I wrote to the Queen of England, and today I still have the response I received from Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting. In another writing exercise, we were to write a short story, and I remember writing what I imagined would be the next story line for the Nancy Drew mystery series!
Mrs. Eleanor Wunder taught my eighth grade English class. Mrs. Wunder used a wide array of techniques to keep us interested in reading and writing. When we read Shakespeare’s Julius Cesear, we held a potluck Roman banquet and tried to dress in period costumes. We even produced what we imagined a newspaper might have looked like at the time, telling the Julius Cesear news. When we did a unit on poetry, we published an anthology of our work entitled Red Feathers (our school mascot was the cardinal). I still have both the mimeographed newspaper (younger readers can ask the over-50 crowd about mimeographs) and Red Feathers.
Both Mrs. Chatten and Mrs. Wunder had the ability to bring out the best in every student, diverse as we were. Both nurtured and encouraged my love of writing. I hadn’t thought about this until now, but I suppose I became an English major in college in no small part due to these two women and their influence.
It occurs to me too just now that both these women were married to Lutheran pastors. (That explains the Roman potluck, doesn’t it? My marrying a Lutheran pastor is purely coincidental, really.)
I still correspond with Mrs. Chatten each Christmas, but I think I’ll send a special note to her this week with a copy of this post. I just found Mrs. Wunder on Facebook and sent a friend request with a link to this blog post.
Who were the teachers that inspired and influenced you? Have you had the opportunity to say thanks?
Linda Post Bushkofsky has been writing since fifth grade … and getting paid to write since 1979.