Think back to K-12 school. Who was your favorite teacher, and why?
You’d think I’d list a music teacher, but my favorite teacher ever was Mrs. Pauline Lewis — 8th grade English. She loved to read and write, and especially enjoyed challenging her kids.
- She ruled with an iron fist (even though she was only five feet tall), but I could tell she cared about us.
- She demanded correct spelling and proper grammar.
- She loved to do spelldown spelling bees (I won a copy of The Andromeda Strain once — she always gave out books as prizes).
- She actually looked at you and listened when you spoke to her.
- She inspired my love of writing for personal meaning and reflection, which gave me a crucial safe haven when I was the new kid at a strange school in a strange land, where kids talked with a funny accent and threw snowballs at me as I walked home from the bus stop carrying my violin, and who gave me fantastic nicknames like “Old Milwaukee,” which, incidentally, I would find quite flattering today.
Second place would probably go to Miss Rinehart, my third grade teacher. She was pretty, and wore the latest fashions — and in 1968, those were pretty wild. She smelled good, too.
Ready, steady, remember.