Wednesday, January 7, 2009

When Life Drags You Down...

...remember to jump back up!

I often tell stories about my high school German (2 years) and English (Senior year) teacher, Mrs. Hollinger. Or Frau Hollinger. Or, as she wrote it Frollinger, with an oomlaut over the "o." (If you didn't take German, sorry for the confusion.)

Frau Hollinger was also our church pianist when I was growing up. My dad was the (volunteer) music director. The sweet-spirited little lady who lived with a broken heart after her grown daughter went into a years-long coma was a total intimidator in the classroom.

She gave us our report cards with the letter grade written neatly in the appropriate box and our numerical average -- rounded to the nearest tenth -- written in tiny (and totally legible) numbers in the corner next to it. Not because of her friendship with my family, but because of her motivational skills, she may have been the best teacher I ever had. (Except Cathy, who "rules the rooster." But thats another story.)

As a young pastor, I was invited to speak at a special service taking place in the church where I grew up. I wanted to do a good job, being the returning local kid. Of all the people there that night, I especially wanted to impress one. You guessed it!

It wasn't that I wanted her to think well of me as much as wanting Frau Hollinger to know that I had learned -- really learned -- from her.

During a fellowship time after the service, I was excited for her feedback. She said I had done a good job -- yayyy -- then she got that certain look in her eyes. "Uh-oh," I thought, "Here it comes!"

"Samuel," she said, using the German pronunciation of my name. "The past tense of drag is dragged." My eyes got big. "Did I really say 'drug?'" She replied in the affirmative and quoted my exact words.

Poor Frau Hollinger. She taught me for two years of high school. She coached me numerous times as a kid and a young adult. In all that time she hadn't dragged that bad habit out of me.

Now every time I hear someone make that mistake, I think of her. I hope she notices from heaven!

What teacher most influenced you? Why?


Liz said...

I have several teachers who have had a profound impact on my life. I had an algebra teacher in junior high who had the courage to contact my parents and tell them that I wasn't stuggling because I was lazy but because I was smart and needed to be in a better learning environment. My 5th grade teacher who celebrated my adoption day with me. My elementary school principal who knew something was wrong in my life and tried and tried, gently and kindly, to get it out of me (to no avail). My high school guidance counselor who guided me through the most chaotic years of my life.

And that is just the tip of the educational iceberg!

C. Beth said...

The two that stick out are Miss Sykes and Mr. Pothast. Miss Sykes was the most loving teacher ever--she gave so much extra time to us. Mr. Pothast made learning fun and became a friend while remaining an authority figure.

Scriptor Senex said...

I had the best Latin teacher ever. He was also the very best teacher of anything I ever learned. His name was Albert Wilson and he retired in the early 1970s so either mortuus est or he is heading for ‘oldest living Briton’ title. He made Latin fun which is something not many people can achieve, and yet at the same time was a strong disciplinarian. Such was his success with his pupils that some folk who left school with only two ‘O’ Level GCE’s managed to have Latin as one of them. I particularly appreciated the fact that he was the only one of my teachers who took the trouble to visit me in hospital after a road accident put me there for a month at the age of 16.
I wonder how many other folk recall him with affection and can still quote passages of Virgil forty years after they learned them? I bet I'm not alone.

Rachel Cotterill said...

My science teacher who lent me degree-level textbooks when I was fifteen so that I could carry on asking questions which she didn't know the answers to :)

Brian said...

I had a nun that would sneak up behind a student and slap them in the mouth with a chalk eraser if she caught you talking during class. Ahhh the good old days. But, everyone loved her. She was strict yet very fair. Just what a 7th grade boy needed.

Thanks for the memories Sam.