10:52:20 am on
Sunday 21 Oct 2018

Appreciating Teachers
Matt Seinberg


Teachers that left lasting impressions: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

With all the school shootings happening lately, it's sad that no school has a big security presence to protect students and faculty. What idiot came up with the idea to have teachers bring guns into their classrooms? Oh yeah, that was our president.


Guns in the classroom.

Suppose teachers did have guns, with a trigger lock, secured away, in a safe or a lock box in the classroom. The lock box would likely have a combination lock. Imagine, under the stress of rapid fire in hallway, trying to open the box.

The problem is that by the time the teacher can get to the gun and unlock secure box, it may be too late to use it. Moreover, has someone trained the teacher to use a gun? The fatalities will pile up.

I had some great teachers through all my year. I was thinking about some of them today. Please let me share those thoughts.

I lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, from second through seventh grades. In fourth grade, I was in the Hagan Spackenkill Elementary School, which included grades one through six. Middle schools didn't exist back then.

In the fourth grade, I had Mrs Morehouse as my teacher. Sometime during the first quarter, of the school year, she had to leave suddenly to take care of her daughter who was in a very bad car accident.

Since the school didn't want us to have a succession of substitute teachers, they brought Mrs Martha Lawrence out of retirement to be our teacher. How do I remember something like this from so far back? It's because Mrs Lawrence was a living legend in the district. She had a school named after her.

Mrs Lawrence was a fabulous teacher, who made learning fun. It's didn't seem like work, but we did learn what we were supposed to learn. I tried to find some information about her, today, on the internet, but couldn't find anything. She was in her seventies all those years ago, so I'm sure we lost her a long time ago.

In fifth grade, I had Mr Manca, who was one of the few male teachers in the school. He was dating the teacher across the hall, which we, his students and hers, found intriguing. When someone got in trouble in one of their classes, they received a time out in the other class. Luckily, that happened to me only once.

Sixth grade was more of any adventure. I had Mrs Anson for homeroom and social studies as well as several other teachers in that wing, of the school, for the other subjects. I was always getting into trouble. The kid that sat across from me was a troublemaker.

I caught the blame for stuff he did. It took a while for Mrs. Anson to believe me. She really was an old battle-axe, but I think he meant well.

The next year we all attended Croft Road Junior High School. It was such adventure. The highlight was social studies with Miss Joan Brodicki, who we discovered on a thing going on with the math, teacher Mr Christopher. She was what all the boys were thinking of; she wore mini-skirts, was blonde with blue eyes and attractive. I'm surprised we got any work done.


Teachers leave an impression.

Then my family moved to Spring Valley, New York. I attended Spring Valley Junior High for grades eight through ten and did quite well in school. What I remember was being in the old junior high building for seventh grade and moving to a new building for eighth grade. The new building wasn't finished when we started classes there. It had a few design flaws, which made it difficult to get from one side of the building to the other. Picture it as a big U, with the library in the middle.

If I was on the top left of the U, I had to go all the way around to the bottom and back up the right side. The only shortcut was through two classrooms that accessed the library through sliding glass doors. I could only cut through these rooms if I knew they were empty or if I knew the teacher who might feel sorry that I was running late.

It was from the English Department Chair, Mr Williams, that I found my interest in reading and writing. He would encourage all of us to write about any subject for extra credit. I wish I had some of those stories today.

Another English teacher also influenced me, Mrs Wood. She was about 6'2"; her husband was even taller. She had fingernails that looked like claws, but she always kept them punctiliously manicured.

I remember sitting in the back row, of English class, next to Cindy Mauro, who was far ahead in the bodily development department compared with some of the other girls. It was because of this that I let her copy some of my work.

Mr Smith sparked my interest in science and with his help. Greg Grahl and I entered a contest to have an experiment placed on board the Skylab space station. I don't remember the idea, but we didn't win. I think we did get some sort of certificate for entering. I kept in touch with Mr Smith for years after I moved. Greg and I were still friends.

Mrs Kessler was the social studies teacher, which was another class I enjoyed. She was friendly and always willing to help with any problems in that class or out for that matter. Some teachers are more dedicated than are others.

Mr Youchah was the best mathematics teacher. If he’d been my teacher in ninth grade, I would have done much better. He always explained mathematics in a way that made sense. Mathematics has never been my best or favourite subject.

I think back to all those teachers and wonder how I remember anything of them. The answer is simple. They were good at what they did and appreciated molding the young minds s entrusted to them. If they had to discipline a student, they did it, within reason of course.


School was once safe haven.

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Yes, I had some great teachers. I wouldn’t like to think of them shooting it out with a mass killer. In my day, though, not one teacher was afraid of the students. Not one teacher was afraid the school would come under attacked. Not one teacher needed a gun.

Maybe next time, I'll go back to high school. Break out your old yearbooks. Flip through and smile at the memories, as I did.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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