Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Teachers!

I'm just going to keep putting these up, because they're all interesting.

Leading off today is Mike Kolar:
I definitely had that teacher- Mrs Santangelo. She was my sophomore English teacher. Never smiled, and didn’t seem to respect us much at all. She always had a stern, disapproving look on her face. When she answered questions her demeanor always conveyed that she couldn’t believe she had to handle all these foolish questions from these ungrateful kids.

I remember one particular assignment, where we were to write a descriptive essay--one page where we picked one particular thing and described it to the best of our ability. I chose to describe Mrs. Santangelo. I wrote about how she was of an indeterminate age, how she was just tall enough to tower over a student who was sitting down, how she strode about the room and glared sternly at everyone, how the class had a gloomy prison atmosphere. And if that weren’t enough, I turned it in a day late. The day after it was due we walked into class and I handed it to her. She put it down on her desk and told everyone to sit down for a pop quiz. She handed it out and we all got to work, then to my horror she went over and picked up my essay, stood off to the side of the room, and read it right then and there! I could hardly concentrate on the quiz; I was terrified of what would happen next. She read through the whole thing without much reaction, then pursed her lips and turned and looked at the ceiling for a few minutes. I was sweating bullets, but to my surprise, she never made eye contact, never said a word about it, and I never got my essay back. Class went on for the rest of the year as if nothing had happened.

I ran into her in the mall a few years later, and was shocked when she called me by name and proceeded to chat me up about this and that for a good 15 minutes. It was like she was some other person that I had never met, animated and friendly in a way that I had never seen her. The only conclusion I can draw from that encounter is that the teacher I had known that year was a role she played. Perhaps that role was modeled after teachers she had as a student, or perhaps it was the only way she felt she could effectively control a group of uninterested, hormone-ridden 10th graders. I’ll never know for sure, but it makes me wonder about her true reaction to my essay. Was she really insulted, or maybe hurt, or did she crack up inside when she read it? Either way, her role wouldn’t permit her to show me.

Mike, even in high school, had some stones.

Now, here's a story from Tim Hibbetts that will blow your mind:
It was reading a couple of other teacher tales that recalled to my mind our German teacher. I had volunteered the year previous (8th grade) to be the teacher's assistant to one of the coolest teachers I had, and he had accepted my application (I don't recall what he taught, but it wasn't German). It was the one bright spot I had as the new school year closed ominously through the hot, carefree summer days of idle tension (August); all of my other classes were unknown variables of social awkwardness, but in this class (I can't even recall it now), I was going to hold a position of power and would be the lackey instead of one of the tortured.

Much to my surprise, when I got my schedule, I was TA for an entirely different and new teacher. A little detective work uncovered that my original teacher had moved on late in the summer and was replaced by another teacher who didn't want a TA. The new German teacher, it seemed, did. It was not an auspicious day as I rolled in, ready to beg out of his service and move on to my #2 choice. Herr Eine-auge (his real name escapes me, but was much less interesting) had a full beard, a dime-sized divot in his forehead (which reached to his back head) and an eye patch. So, color me Jim Hawkins, but I wanted out of there. He was very stern at my request to quit his service and indicated he would need a TA. I was to be more of a minion to his cruel ministrations than a lackey able to lord my slightly higher status over the poor 1st year German non-speakers.

This went on for a couple weeks, with a great deal of mindless drudgery (he didn't need me very much, but I had to be at his beck and call, limiting my running-around-free time). Then, one evening at dinner, my step-father, a local police detective, very casually remarked that they'd gone that afternoon and arrested my German teacher for killing his wife upstate over the summer. Exclamation mark! I don't know if I did a spit-take (I doubt it, but am going to start inserting that in my memory), but needless to say, I was floored. Making copies for a killer! A one-eyed killer!

Even now it seems kind of fantastic, but my step-dad confirmed it...the dude offed his wife and came down to the desert in hopes of getting away with it. I don't know the rest of that part of the story, but the important thing was that I moved on to be TA to the coolest PE teacher in school and spent my hours handing out basketballs and pretty much having a great time slacking off.


It doesn't happen often, but I'm speechless.

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