"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Hits Close to Home on Mother's Day

During Teacher Appreciation WeekI thought about all the teachers who have inspired and encouraged me as well as challenged and supported me.  I also through about the physical spaces in which I learned and how those impacted my experiences.

I thought about Mrs. Reppucci, my preschool teacher at The Old South Church Preschool Program, who calmly helped me understand why I should not be chatting away during rest time with my best friend, Tammy. (I still remember the feel of the vinyl cot material on my cheek as we lay there facing each other.) Going to preschool in an historic church meant some fun moments of exploring! I loved this mysterious building.  My appreciation for the people who gently help us see a path (along with my understanding of the lines between social time and play time). 
Old South Church
I thought about Marjorie Bakken, my teacher at the open classroom, alternative school, called the Liberation School, which I attended for 1st and 2nd grade. She recognized my strengths and weaknesses and celebrated me as an individual. It was a community-run school organized under the Committee for Community Educational Development (CCED) which became part of the Massachusetts Experimental School System. The school was located in an old garage/repair building.  It was this funky, wide open space with movable cubicle-style walls that defined learning spaces.  My belief that everyone is an individual and sense of self were fostered here.
The school was torn down and no longer exists
but was located in Dorchester on Geneva Avenue.
I thought about Lynn Weissberg, my teacher at The Bancroft School. She knew me as a student and as a person. I never formed a connection with another teacher as I did with Lynn. She patiently sat beside me through math problems knowing that I plowed through DRA boxes at an incredible speed.  This was a completely differentiated school environment. Bancroft was an open classroom, community-based school.  (We left the school building and went to cooking classes at a parent's house a few blocks away!) I loved not only the academically innovative learning environment, but also the physical environment. This alternative school was housed in an old school building that had eight rooms and four grades. We moved from room to room as we needed for math, social studies, science and English language arts. My love of learning was fostered here. 
Photo of Rice school in 1876
The Bancroft is the building on the right
I thought about many teachers at Boston Latin, who challenged me to be the best person I could be.  The transition from an innovative learning environment to a traditional one was rough, but I persevered and learned to adapt. Again, it was the math teachers who stand out in my memory because they needed to spend extra time with me.  My comfort with public speaking grew here. Monthly public declamation for six years makes speaking in front of crowds a breeze. The physical learning environment was once again a part of this experience, walking the halls and sitting in the classrooms of this building carried with it the former students and history -- the sense that you were carrying on a legacy.  My academic drive and my desire to achieve the best from myself were grown here. 
BLS entrance on Avenue Louis Pasteur
There is one teacher who stands out more than the rest. her influence cannot be relegated to any one physical structure because she has been with me every step of the way.  She is the ultimate teacher - my mother --I was a student in her head start program. My mother taught in her first head start program in 1966 and continued working with children through her time as a child care director in the 1990's. 

My mother has inspired and encouraged, challenged and supported me.  She planted the seeds for all the experiences that came later.  She is the person who read to us for hours and who built amazing block structures.  She is the person who read papers and book reports.  She is the person who listened to public declamation speeches.  She is the person who listened.  She is the person who talked about current events.  She is the person who played games.  She is the person who hiked, skied and swam along side us.  She is the person who recognized the joy of unsupervised, unstructured play.  She is my teacher. She is my mother.

To the best teacher I know, and 
to all the mothers and 
all the teachers
who inspire and encourage
challenge and support 
learners of every age.

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