Thursday, September 11, 2008

To My Teaching Heroines

Being back at school has me thinking a lot about the teachers I had while growing up. It seemed that the first few days of school this year all the kids in the halls were proclaiming their love for their male teachers: "Mr. X is soo funny!", "Oh, Mr. X is crazy!", and "I can already tell Mr. X is my favorite teacher, he's so cool." I've had teachers that I loved that were both men and women, but it seemed that the reports I overheard from students were that their female teachers were too strict, too quiet, or the big B word. Yeah. That kind of made me sad. Maybe it's because middle school girls start maturing to that unfriendly level of female competitiveness and the boys are, well, still boys and are just thinking about Nintendo. John said he didn't really know girls existed until high school. He lived in a state of oblivion. So, I started racking my mind to see if I had any great female teachers. The funny thing is that the big B word popped up frequently in my mind. I remember one lady was definitely out to get me. She didn't like a gonorrhea joke I made when we were talking about A Farewell to Arms and after that our relationship went downhill for the whole year. I think that maybe we compare our women teachers to our mothers. They should be there comforting us with a cookie and milk, not reprimanding us! Ha! But there have been female teachers in my life that were able to seamlessly blend the mother-heart with that of the wise disciplinarian. I fondly look to their examples as I start this new year.

1. Marta Adair (BYU) - Marta was not only my favorite teacher at BYU, but she was my friend, my mentor, and my hero. A veteran teacher of science, Marta seemed to be able to reach me like no other professor could. She made learning a soul searching experience and helped me find my love of teaching. She was spunky and fun. She raised her own chickens and harvested honey from her own hives. We still keep in touch via email and I stop by and see her when I'm down in Provo.

2. Mrs. Mello (Sophmore English) - She was just as her name implies, mello. She had a water boiler so that we could drink hot chocolate everyday in her class. This is where I read Lord of the Flies and Romeo and Juliet for the first time. We even got to watch the scandalous old version of R&J with Olivia Hussey. You know that one part where Romeo wakes up in the morning . . .

3. Mrs. Balmaceda (7th Grade History) - This woman did her own thing. While the rest of the school solely focused on European history, we got to learn about Japan and the middle east in addition to the regular core. I found out a little about my own heritage by studying samurai and Japanese history. We had two kids who were Muslim and Mrs. Balmaceda let them share about their customs and beliefs of Islam. I feel that experience has helped me be more understanding during this time in our nation's history. She was also married to a Filipino man and often spoke of some traditions of the Philippines. Who knew I would go my mission there? She gave me my first glimpse of the people who I would spend 1 &1/2 years serving.

I hope I can one day be as wonderful as these great women teachers.


Amanda said...

this inspires me. and you do too.

love you.

holtkamp said...

i can't believe you left ms. harkins off your list of inspiring teachers! ha, ha

Melinda said...

OH my gosh! Michelle ran into Harkins at the grocery store. She said she saw her and quickly turned the other way. I guess she still looks exactly the same. Remember when I had to dance with her for the Gatsby party? That was so uncomfortable!!