Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to School

School starts today; yet it still feels like mid-summer. The temperature has been 100 degrees or more for days, with no sign of a break. Of course, schools today are comfortably air-conditioned. Back in my school days, that would have been an unheard-of luxury. But of course, our homes weren't air conditioned either. Nothing was, except movie theaters and a few large downtown buildings, so we didn't know any better.
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We started school around the second week of September and in a few weeks there were hints of fall in the air. On the playground, between hopscoth and jump rope, we collected acorns, took them home to shellack them and make them into necklaces. Football season brought cool nights and the sight of the University of Texas Tower bathed in orange light.

I remember most of my teachers (Long-term memory is the last to go.) Miss Lamar, my gentle first grade teacher; Miss Cook, the music teacher who always made me come up to the piano and try again to sing "I'm here" because I was, and am, tone deaf; Miss Hunter, the art teacher, who read Mary Poppins between art projects; Mr. Davis, the junior high science teacher who liked to read stupid answers from tests, which made me cringe with trepidation; Miss Brown, our high school English teacher who was married to the play-by-play sportscaster for the high school football games and who, we thought, was quite old. I glanced at her picture many years later in our high school year book and realized she must have been just past twenty.


My favorite of all my teachers throughout school was Miss Hill, my high school Latin teacher. She was a small, thin woman with iron-grey hair, whose life revolved around Latin. She taught with love and filled us with love for Latin as well. From her came my delight in vocabulary words and their origins, my love of classical mythology and my fascination with Roman and Greek history. Not a bad inheritance.

Miss Hill was prim and proper and when we read the Aeneid and reached the story of the birth of the Minotaur, half man, half bull, she thought it too pruient for our adolescent sensibilities (How times have changed.) so we skipped it in class. But
at home, the telephone wires buzzed as we all worked to translate the "dirty" passage.

Miss Hill's greatest dream was to visit Rome and during my senior year her students raised the money to buy her a ticket, which was presented to her at a party. She was overwhelmed.

She is remembered as the remarkable teacher she was in Austin High School's Hall of Fame.

Did you have a memorable teacher--good or bad?


Kelly Hashway said... [Reply to comment]

I'll never forget my sophomore English teacher, Mr. McKay. He could make anyone fall in love with books. Not that I needed any convincing. ;)

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

My favorite teacher was my high school Latin teacher, too. He was also my AP English Literature teacher, the teacher who got me out of classes I didn't like, and the teacher who let me read in the back of the room when I didn't feel like socializing at lunch.

He was sarcastic, almost to the point of mean, and he made you work for his respect. But he taught me a lot.

Annie Boreson said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, you are amazing to remember your teachers so fondly. I don't remember one! What does that say about my memory? Actually I remember my homeroom teacher in high school and my English teacher (a witch.) Other than that it is foggy. I hope that the kids remember their teachers and have a good school year!

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for sharing your favorite teacher stories (or not) with me.


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