September 9 – Who was your favorite teacher?
Maybe I should post about my first high school English teacher kiss… Not sure that would be appropriate though so lets go with the next high school English Teacher who tried so hard to inspire each and every student and had his work cut out for him with my shop class. Of which I was the only girl left in the second year.
You see my electrical shop of misfits had shop for two weeks solid, just shop. This allowed us to leave the school grounds and go wire local buildings in the community. The two weeks after was all academics at school, structure and for 30 some odd guys, this was not their idea of fun. We would have double English classes to make up for it of course. Mr. Brown was not a large man, he was older with a white peppered short well kept beard and short pepper hair. He wore what own would expect English teachers to wear. He had fire and passion for his job though and it showed.
It must be said that my husband went through the school a few years before I did and he also notes that Mr. Brown was his favorite as well. My husband though was not a shop kid, he was in electronics but they had days much like most academic students and his classes were filled with smart students.
This is not to say my shop class of misfits was not filled with smart students. They had smarts but seemingly not for things like English. They also had attitudes. I admit, not even I liked the 2 solid weeks away from work. I however did love English class. I loved books and reading and writing and deeper thinking and imagining. I would often get frustrated with the guys in class who would be so disrespectful to the teacher and get in the way of lessons I enjoyed. I often ended up I imagine as part of the issue, yelling at a few of them back and forth and belittling them in hopes of getting them simply to shut up! I felt badly for the teacher and was honestly embarrassed by my shop class on more than a few occasions.
One day Mr. Brown got so upset with the class that he had written up a scolding letter and asked for each of us to write a response back to him. I remember I wrote a lot. I felt so badly about how hurt he was and I was taken back by his harsh tone as well. I didn’t think he could be so angry honestly.
They day after we turned in our papers I came to class to find a quote from my paper up on the wall in the largest letters I have ever seen, and he had the banner laminated as well. Seems I made an impression. It read:
A well written letter can give the smallest person the strongest voice.
I guess one could focus on the fact that I called him small. He didn’t though and I am thankful as I didn’t mean it as an insult. I was just in awe of how powerfully he had written and I know the guys in the class had been too. Other teachers stopped me to talk about what I written and I was even called into my councilors office to talk about my “options” as I had expressed my sadness over not having enough English classes, not enough time with books, not enough time to follow what I love. I was a shop girl and special but it was getting to me. My shop councilor across the hall was often pushing how important it was to be a female in these certain shops, she took us girls to conferences, she made sure the shops accommodated us. While I loved shop, the teachers there as well, the wires, the math, and seeing learning in action I was getting burnt out. I had fallen through a ceiling at a job off campus and run into more than my fair share of spiders. The sparkle of being in electrical had worn off. I found the work in shop easy, clean walls and tools. I found my few hours of apprentice work out side of school that I had gotten, not to my liking at all. They say the first year of working under and electrician to be mostly digging ditches. They are not kidding and I hated it.
I had went from loving shop because finally it was education applied and hands on to disliking the reality of the job. I found myself sitting at the bottom of my shop booth reading for the love of reading. I found myself going out on jobs in the town and finding trees to sit under and letting the guys do the work. I resented the spot I was in and the guys resented me not doing my fair share. They also resented the fact that I was one of the few who had an outside paying job in the field they wanted to be in and I didn’t appreciate it. I can’t blame them. Before I knew it, I was isolated at school, shop teachers lost hope in me, shop students had no patience with me, and I just wanted to be back in the academic world. Finally thanks to Mr. Brown I made the jump back. The shop councilor was useless though, She didn’t fill my days with more English classes, instead I had more study halls than I knew what to do with as they had no idea just what to do with me. After two and half years of shop I guess things are hard to change course on. What ever the case was I learned a lot of thing I don’t think most students learn in school.
I don’t wire houses all these years later but I still have a love for books and writing and learning. I think I owe a great deal to Mr. Brown and all he put up with. I was a trying student with a style and attitude all my own, I had to have such to deal with the guys. Mr. Brown could see past it though and let me indulge my inner Geek Goddess.
I wash picked on by shop kids about that banner for a long time. I didn’t care. Someone read what I had written for a change and it had mattered.