To My Teachers

I almost always liked school, but when you’re in the thick of it with classes, I think it can be harder to appreciate your teachers. These are the people who are assigning you readings, essays and (dreaded) group projects. Now a couple years removed from college, I can look fondly on more than a few.

Eagle Point & Gator Run Elementary Schools

Ms. Kabat, Mrs. House, Mrs. Mitchell: My kindergarten, first grade and third grade teachers, respectively. Just really nice, sweet ladies who made elementary school pretty fun. Really though, I loved all of my teachers during this time.

Tequesta Trace Middle School

Mrs. Huff: She was my Language Arts (English) teacher in 6th and 8th grades. We read some good books and did a lot of writing. I still remember in 8th grade she had us write our weekly quote reflection on this Yogi Berra gem: “it ain’t over til it’s over.” And then the Red Sox became the first team to come back and win the league championship series after being down 3-0. And then they won the World Series. Thanks for nothing, Alex Rodriguez.

Ms. Euler: She was my drama teacher for most of middle school. Once during a rehearsal she said she wanted our audience to say we were good, not cute, after a performance. That always stuck with me.

Mrs. Barrios: I always liked American history. I have the American Girl and Dear America books to thank for that. This class though was the first time I was unabashedly enthusiastic (and competitive) about it. I now have a degree in American studies and debate going back to school to teach American history at least once a year.

Cypress Bay High School

Dr. Lyons: Oh man, I might cry writing this because he was such a powerful influence on my life in high school. I took Latin for four semesters in high school (the best way to practice for the SAT verbal and avoid giving class presentations in a foreign language) and then was an office in Latin Honor Society for two years after that. I participated in a language competition (and medaled) and took my first AP exam for Latin (the preparation involved translating long exercepts of The Aeneid, several times over). I was one of a handful of students to go on a class trip to Rome and Athens, and one of the others is still one of my best friends. So basically, I spent a lot of time with Dr. Lyons and in his classroom. While I always struggled with math and science (even if I did relatively well, it didn’t come easy to me once I got to pre-algebra and beyond), this was the first time I really had to push myself to do well in a humanities class. Latin is hard, and I lacked a decent foundation on grammar, so learning Latin grammar (on top of conjugating and whatever else I don’t remember) was a lot of work. Anyway, what I remember of Dr. Lyons is how high his expectations were, and how he would bend over backwards to make sure you met them. He was exceptionally generous and welcoming. (Dr. Lyons was also the advisor for our school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, so I know he has had an incredible impact on hundreds of other students over the years.)

Mr. Pedersen: My junior year of high school I took AP calculus, despite my boyfriend at the time asking me if I could handle it (we were together over another year after that, for some reason). Sometimes I didn’t believe I could handle it (I cried at the post-exam pizza party) but Mr. Pedersen made sure all of his students could. I passed with a 5 and never had to sit through a college math class. I’m eternally grateful, and told him so.

Ms. Farbriaz: Farbi, as we affectionately called her, is one of those crazy inspiring teachers everyone should have the pleasure of having at least once. Her English composition class was really like a how-to guide to life. I visited her once after I had just turned twenty, and she advised me to just live my life, no strings attached, for the next 15 years. I didn’t exactly listen (says the girl living with her boyfriend and their dog), but there’s still something to say for a teacher who is so real with you.

Mr. Adzima: So how weird is it that AP U.S. History was probably the most fun I had in a high school classroom? Sorry, history teachers just have the best stories (duh). Mr. Adzima also was the first to warn me that after undergrad, you’ll never be with as many people your age again (weird but totally true!). Bonus points for his class being the one that I really clicked with and excelled at.

Mr. Doster: His television production classes were the first time I started really considering pursuing journalism, so that was an absolute game changer.

Ms. McNeely: I loved her every second I wasn’t terrified of her; she was a bundle of sass and snark unlike I had ever seen before. Also gave excellent book recommendations.

…I really liked high school, sorry.

Fordham University

Dr. Hassett: Her class was the only I got to choose my first semester of college. I was totally weird and wasn’t looking forward to college at all, but her literature course on New York City writers helped. I went to one of her lectures as a senior and despite me never keeping in touch, she remembered me, which was a damn good compliment.

Dr. Knobel: I was never actually her student, but she was our advisor at the paper and one of the first professors I met when I arrived on campus. Her advice, support, and time were always appreciated.

Fr. Tueth: The sweetest movie-loving Jesuit priest I ever met (he may or may not have skipped mass one day after he saw Uma Thurman in the city). I always appreciate film buffs who embrace the low and high brow parts of pop culture. His classes were fun and engaging (the exception during my time at college, unfortunately), and not needlessly difficult — all of which were appreciated, especially as a senior.

Dr. Marwick: I’m not sure what I expected when I registered for her social media class fall my senior year, but it wasn’t a role model who helped change the course of my last two semesters. (Sorry, would you like some wine with that cheese?) Her class was engaging and she was genuinely interested in what her students had to say. She just got it, and she got us (and gave excellent career/life advice). After her class, she worked with me to turn my final paper (on blogging!) into a full-blown research presentation, which is totally what most journalism students do their last semester of school.  She helped me love media as a field of study.

And of course, a special thank you to my own mom. Not only was she one of my first life teachers, but she also taught kindergarten for over a decade. As the daughter of a teacher, I don’t think anything can make you feel prouder than hearing the impact that your mom has had on her students.

~ Sarah