I was thinking the other day how lucky I am to have reconnected with former teachers who had a huge impact on my life. I thought about the difference teachers can make on a person’s trajectory during their early years and how that impact is felt forever.
One of my favorites, Ms. Hagerty, introduced our class to her love of reading through acting out the voices for us as she read The Hobbit every day after lunch. This practice decluttered our minds and got us ready to absorb the afternoon’s lessons. It showed us the importance of reading every day, even for only a half hour and how that can transport you to another world. Many classmates have passed the love of reading on to their children through that book.
Ms. Hagerty also took us on field trips where experiential learning took place and made learning fun. Everyone wanted to sit next to her, just to be in her presence and absorb whatever concept she was relating to us at the time. And, we tried out a new concept, an “Open Classroom” where we had classes on the school’s lawn, under a tree. Exposure to new ways of teaching allowed us to understand how we best learn as individuals.
One of my classmates, Dina, remembers the Prisoner of War bracelets Ms. Hegarty introduced us to. Prisoner of War bracelets http://thewall-usa.com/bracelet.asp were created during the Viet Nam war as a reminder that soldiers were not forgotten. On each POW/MIA bracelet was the name, rank and loss date of an American soldier. We purchased and wore them keeping an eye out for each soldier’s return to the United States so we could return the bracelet to the POW/MIA soldier so they understood they were never forgotten. “POW bracelets taught us to be socially conscious, she didn’t treat us like 5th graders, she treated us like people who could make a difference in the world.”
Understanding that we all learn differently, she spoke about her vulnerability when she learns new things and passed on her tips and tricks to help us as unique individuals best learn in our own way. She was so organized and had such well-planned lessons and outings we never felt confused by what we were going to be doing that day or what we were learning, she showed us how to organize and declutter our minds.
It was a very safe learning environment. What a gift our grammar school gave us by hiring her! Imagine, a teacher being able to reach 40 unique students in a variety of ways, ways that worked while creating socially conscious people. I cannot thank her enough! Why not reach out to your positive former teachers?