Flashback: A Teacher Tribute

I’ve had so many great, influential and memorable teachers over the many years I spent in school (21 if you want to be precise!) that there’s no way I could narrow it down to just one or two who had a profound impact on me.

Instead, here’s a list of the ones I’d like to acknowledge and why.

You’ll notice there are quite a few from elementary school, fewer from high school and only one from my 6 years of university at three different institutions. Maybe that’s because the formative years are the most important. Maybe it’s because I spent much of 1989 through 1995 drinking Wildberry Coolers and doing trays of $1 shooters (when I wasn’t swooning over some cute boy I’d just met or crying over one who’d just broken my heart).

In any case, here’s my Teacher Tribute:

  • Mrs. Deveau, my kindergarten teacher, who quickly noticed that every time we had free play time in class, I headed for the piano…and who for the next two years, let me come into the kindergarten room half an hour before the bell rang every morning to practice, until she finally convinced my parents to get me lessons and a piano of my own when I was in Grade 2.
  • Madame Benjaminsen, my Grade 4 French teacher, who made “Frère Jacques” more than just a jumble of funny sounds and opened my ears to the beauty and intricacies of foreign languages.
  • Mr. Adili, my elementary school teacher for 3 straight years (Grades 5, 6 and 7), who saw me through the most awkward years of my life and taught me to never be ashamed of who I am and how well I can do.
  • Miss Trudeau, my Grade 8 teacher, who went against the curriculum and insisted on giving weekly spelling tests until graduation day, and who I credit with my love of English , my appreciation for the difference between “there,” “their” and “they’re,” and my career as an editor.
  • Mrs. Seabourne, one of my high school English teachers, whose creative approach to Shakespeare made an entire class WANT to read Hamlet.
  • Mrs. Payne, another high school English teacher, who somehow kept tabs on me over the years after graduation and even showed up at my mom’s funeral a decade later.
  • Mr. X, my Grade 11 physics teacher, who, as the most disliked teacher of my entire education, still taught me an important lesson: that it’s better to stand up for yourself and for what you believe in (in this case that no self-respecting 16-year-old girl should be forced to sit through an entire semester being taught by a misogynistic lout) than to shut up and put up.
  • Sister Corona Sharp, an Ursuline Sister who taught me several English courses at university, who pushed me outside my comfort zone and forced me to get involved (in everything from a Shakespearean puppet show to taking over her class one day to present an essay topic I was working on that she thought the class would enjoy), showing me in the process that scary isn’t necessarily bad.
  • My good friend Kelly, who brings her 20 years of teaching experience and her wealth of knowledge to every book club meeting we have, who has mastered the art of leaving us smarter and more enlightened than when we arrived without us even realizing it at the time, and who I’m sure will someday be named on a teacher tribute list by students who were lucky enough to be in her classes.

Check out Luc’s thoughts on teachers.


One thought on “Flashback: A Teacher Tribute

  1. Kelly Elder says:

    Jen, I’m telling you it has something to do with the name and its association with brilliance. All joking aside, we all need to thank our teachers more often, no matter how old we are. Sometimes my teachers are my children, peers or those older and wiser. I thank them all for showing me something new or opening my eyes and/or mind to a different point of view (sometimes very hard to do). I am not just saying this because I am a teacher (family disease). I will always remember the best teachers that I had and try to be as good as they were.

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