Moving as much as I did growing up, I’ve been fortunate enough to have teachers from across the country: Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, and even New Jersey, that were part of my learning years. I think more than anything this helped to prepare me for college where professors were as diverse as the student population—giving various lecturing styles and expectations. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember all of the teachers I had growing up. Some schools I attended such a short period of time that I barely remember the school’s name let alone the teachers that taught me or the students in my classes. However, I do remember some teachers and like most I have my favorites.
I think narrowing it down to just one teacher would not be fair. I learned different things at different stages growing up, and the lessons I learned at these different intervals were crucial to forming the person I’ve become today. While each teacher may have taught me something different, they all had one thing in common. They each taught me something that could be taken beyond the classroom and applied to my life. And forever, I am grateful that I had the good fortune to be in each of these teacher’s classrooms.
In third grade, I was assigned to Ms. M. M. Weightman’s classroom in Hudson Elementary School. Unlike some of the other students that went to a different classroom for the second half of the day, I had Ms. Weightman all day long. Up until this point, I had really nice teachers, but I didn’t necessarily have a teacher that pushed me beyond the limits a normal teacher would bother to push a student. I am not a teacher, so possibly teachers hold off on this sort of thing until 3rd grade? I’m not sure.
She expected her rules to be followed and she actually gave consequences for not following the rules. She believed in doing something until you got it right. I struggled with making the upper case cursive Q, W, and Z. I remember Ms. Weightman having me rewrite my letters over and over again until I formed them the way they were supposed to be formed. (I have to stop here and mention that her handwriting was the most beautiful handwriting ever). She expected a little more out of her students, and a little more out of me. I was compelled to go beyond the expectations given, not just in her classroom but it carried over into life in general. It helped that she was genuine and sincere and it left a real impression on me as I moved forward.
(I learned that Ms. Weightman passed away in 2007. Thank you Ms. Weightman—I’ll say a prayer and hopefully an angel will pass my gratitude along!)
By sixth grade, we had moved out to Oklahoma. I spent 5th grade in one school district and had moved to the next town south for 6th grade. As a student who didn’t stay in any particular school very long, it was hard to plant your feet and establish your roots. And here I was in a new school, once again, and I felt scared and terrified. For one, we spent our summers with my Grandma in Florida, and by the time we finished summer vacation and drove to our new home in Bixby, school had already been in session a couple of weeks!!
That year I was assigned to two different teachers, one of which was Mrs. Stubbs, my homeroom teacher. She was probably one of the kindest teachers I remember. It was in her class that I picked up my love for math and to this day it is my favorite subject. I remember her as a very nurturing teacher—genuinely concerned for the welfare of each of the kids in her class—and this is perhaps what I loved about her. I came away with the feeling that what I did mattered, it seemed to matter to her, and she taught me it definitely mattered to others.
The summer after my 6th grade year, we returned to Florida, to spend the summer with my Grandma once again. While away, she and I wrote a few letters back and forth. It meant a lot to me—that she would agree to write me. Not many teachers look forward to conversing with their students over the summer, after a long school year, and usually need to take full advantage of that summer break. She was gracious enough to agree and I was happy to have someone to write with back and forth that summer. It made me feel connected to place that I returned to the next two school years. I’m not sure where Mrs. Stubbs is today. It has been 28 years since the 6th grade and I still think the world of her kindness to this day.
Mrs. Stubbs, thank you for sharing your kindness—you have shown me that kindness goes a long way—and it isn’t just the kindness you receive, but also the kindness you give that matters.
Fast forward—a couple of years and a couple of states later—I was living back in Florida, attending Ridgewood High School. Ridgewood was my 3rd high school and thankfully the one I graduated from. for the next few years, I continued my studies in French, and that meant that I had Dr. Weiskopf for a teacher.
Dr. Weiskopf was so much fun and she made learning French a hoot! She called me “Duffy-Duck” a name I think she also called my brother. She was a master at languages and sometimes ready to teach us German and not French (she could get confused with all the languages she knew)—but Dr. Weiskopf was brilliant. She had taught us so much more than just to speak a little French. She found a way to teach us about the language, culture, and the history. She taught us French Christmas carols and once we learned a bunch of songs, she would take us to the nursing home at Christmastime and have us sing to crowd of residents. She also had us acting French skits, which we got to perform for judges at the local community college competition. It was learning French and living it out loud. And so very memorable.
And in the process we got to learn about her. She was a positive teacher—and provided a fun and often intriguing atmosphere. I remember thinking, “I wish all my classes were like this,” because I never felt that learning was burdensome in her class and I always came away with a sense that I had learned something new. Dr. Weiskopf showed us that learning was something to be embraced and from this I learned to be a life-long learner—always willing to learn something new.
Hopefully, she’s still teaching in Florida and I’ll be able to share this with her one day and let her know how much I appreciated having her as a teacher.
Thank you Dr. Weiskopf…of all the teachers I had at Ridgewood—you were truly THE BEST.
Do you have a favorite teacher?
What stood out the most among your favorites?
Have you ever gone back and thanked them?
Written for the BFF Group for the theme “Favorite Teacher”