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Our Favorite Teachers

It's interesting that when you look at our choices, you'll see that we tended to choose teachers that had high expectations of us, made learning interesting, and gave us some freedom of choice as to what we were doing. Frank's going to pass that on to his education students. - Jo


In Kodai, Mr. Manley, grade 7 science, because of his cool teaching methods. Every three weeks or so he handed out a new topic to be studied with a choice of three levels: X level was mandatory, questions to answer and such, Y level added a research project, and Z level (which hardly anyone ever did) was original work such as constructing something. I went for Y level. Loved doing my own research in the library. Later I used this idea when teaching English A (bonehead). Also Mr. Manley once came to a dressup party as an absent-minded professor, wearing formal shirt, jacket and tie but no trousers, only undershorts.


My favorite teacher was Nora Mitchell. Miss Mitchell was a British woman who taught Indian Social Studies and German. She was probably the most militant female I have ever met in the sense that no one got away with anything - but she did this in a nice way so no one was angry at her. After I took Indian Social Studies I majored in Indian History - relying more on my notes from her class than on the books I read. Her first year German class was definitely 'no-nonsense' and I passed directly into 4th year German in college. She taught us a lot in a very short period of time - everything from essay writing to German pronunciation.


I have several favorite teachers depending on what area of my life they helped me grow:
1) learned the most English: spelling, grammar, writing, poetry, etc: Miss Saunders from Vassar
2) learned the hard lessons of infatuation: John Ruggiero, chemistry and biology
3) learned flexibility, love, kindness, patience: Auntie Powell
4) learned to love vocabulary: Mr. Musil (5 years of Latin) and the Readers Digest magazine
Some teachers must have been very uninspiring as I have totally forgotten them!

(Note: Bets' comment about the Readers Digest reminded me of the days when Mom was on the kick that we had to learn new words from the "How to Increase Your Word Power" at the supper table; then we had to use them throughout the meal---remember that? -Jo)


I have had a few favorite teachers in my life. Two of them taught across the hall from each other in high school: Mrs. Willhardt (English) and Mr. Van Ausdall (Theatre). Mrs. Willhardt didn't teach English, really -- she taught possibility, creativity, style. Mr. Van Ausdall gave me the best lesson I've ever had as an actor: work hard and trust yourself. In college, I met Sandra Hardy, a displaced New Yorker with a wrestler's build and a poet's heart. She taught me that it was okay to be different, to hold on tight to the dreams that drove me and to step in the path of my fears and face them down.


Regarding my best teacher, it was Mrs. Scahuse in grade 3. She was from Scandinavia and taught at Kodai for a couple of years. I particularly enjoyed her way of teaching math. We had 'Lennis Pads'--math work books. We all worked through them in class, but she encouraged us to work ahead. A couple of us completed the whole year's work by mid-year, and she wasn't sure what to do with us. She gave us additional work to keep us busy. The short of it is that that is where I really learned to love math, and ever since, math has been one of my favorite subjects.


The teacher that I remember having the most positive influence on me was Miss Liddle; I think she was my 5th grade teacher. Up until I had her, I pretty much thought I could get by without trying very hard, and would spend a lot of time reading fiction books that I'd hidden behind the text book. That year, though, I WORKED! She had us do all sort of interesting projects, like making dioramas of an Indian village, going outside to explore for science, making group scrapbooks. It was the first time I found out how much fun it could be to learn; at the same time I found out what it was like to be faced with demanding and unbending expectations. No slipshod projects for Miss Liddle---she wouldn't put up with that. Miss Liddle was also our gym teacher, and I remember having to walk around the Kodai gym with our backs ramrod straight and heads held up high. She used to tell us that we should pretend there was a rope connecting the top of our heads to the ceiling and that we had walk like it was being pulled up very tightly. I should have done that more---I'd still be 5'4" instead of shorter than 5'4".
Next time we write these, I'll choose Miss Ruth---she's a whole other story. Remember hiding under the bed so you wouldn't have to go to your music lessons, Gwen?


My first memorable teacher was in 4th grade in Kodai. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name. I do remember she had shiny light brown hair and soft brown eyes and was so very kindly. She taught us our first history lessons, as well as fabulous things about mythology. For us lonely little girls, she was another mother! One who was gentle and still was intent on stimulating our minds. We'd rush up after class and hang around her as long as possible, vying for her attentions and feeling very much in love with her.

>From high school I'd say the one who had the greatest impact on my life was Roger Torrey, our choir director. He was a professional and a perfectionist, and he believed we could be outstanding. So...we became outstanding. Cut records, traveled, were chosen best high school choir in 3-state area. Everyone fought to get into choir, and we looked forward to that last period of the day when we'd gather to do vocal exercises and be challenged to learn the world's best choral music. Rehearsals and performances are my dearest HS memories by far. He even believed in me enough to appoint me as the alto soloist for a final number once, but when the last rehearsal came up, I was so terrified my vocal cords were paralyzed and I couldn't get a note out. He quietly pointed to the "regular" to do the honors and not another word was said about it to humiliate me.

In college it was Dr. Clyde Kilby, whom Jo will remember. He among all others turned me towards literature and the love of the written word. He was (passed away a few years ago) the world's acknowledged expert on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis--two authors whom I love and admire. He also gave me my first "C" on a college exam my first semester at Wheaton, which was a wake-up call that I needed to stretch myself a bit. Which I commenced to do. He was a gentle spirit with an enormous intelligence. I loved him so dearly that I had him stand in as my "father" to give me away when Jay and I married.

In graduate school it had to be Dr. Robert Jacobs, again someone who believed in a shy, reserved young version of myself who had trouble believing I'd amount to anything. He was the one to personally check why I had not gotten a scholarship--turns out they lost my application--and arranged for a 3-year fully paid one. Bless him. He directed my dissertation, and let me have free reign to write a rather unconventional one. Later he helped me relocate in Atlanta and loaned me some money for a car when Michael and I moved there after my separation from Jay and I was a completely lost and forelorn soul. I've been so fortunate to meet up with special people like these. I won't even go into nursing or second grad school stuff, or you'd be online for hours reading just my entry!!!


Like most others, I have a string of past teachers whom I recall---for good or not so good reasons---but Miss Evelyn Kolbrick stands out favorably in my mind. The first day of our seventh grade class at Spaulding School she stood before our class and sternly announced that she did not want to teach this year, she was waiting for a call from a major airline to be an airline hostess, she had just been hired by the school....and then said, "Let's make the best of this for us all." So much for the committed, caring and inspired teacher!

We then proceeded to have a delightful, project-filled, hard-working year. There were fish tanks, turtle houses, cooperative projects, competitive academic games in class. We had various parties, an after-school square dance club---all in all, seventh grade was a neat experience. I'm not sure what ever became of Miss Kolbrick after that year; likely American Airlines gained her services. However, she did provide an interesting set of experiences for a ragtag bunch of seventh graders in 1950-51---and I'll especially remember that the denominator is the 'down' number in common fractions, a little side note she suggested to me one day when I just couldn't keep the numerator and denominator straight.


My favorite teacher was an English teacher in Kodai who taught our eighth grade class for about six months. I don't remember her name- maybe someone else does. She and her husband and two boys lived across from Miss Ruth in that house down beyond Boyer. She was very kind, did not embarrass us when she found out that most of us could not identify a noun or a verb. She explained the parts of speech and then, everyday, we had to write down on a scrap of paper a noun or a verb, or whatever we were learning about at the time. We never put our names on the paper but she was able to check to see if we were catching on.

My worst teacher was Mr. Mussel the Latin teacher. I had nightmares about him for at least 25 years after we left India! The first day of class he said, "Gwen, you are the black sheep of the family and will never make better than a B in this class." I was so paralyzed with terror that my day revolved around whether or not I had yet had Latin class. When class was over I could breath for the rest of the day. If it had not been for Betty, who tutored me at night in Latin and Geometry, I would have failed those two classes simply because I was so terrified. Well, I still get terrified but have learned to go toward it, rather than to run away from it as I did from that terrible teacher, Mr. Mussel. Amen