As a teacher I’ve received many gifts over the years. I appreciate them all, but the ones that are most precious to me have come on pieces of crinkled paper or via email. In my world, a note from a student is a treasure.
As much as I value these notes, I have never written one myself. Today I'd like to change that.
I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was fairly young, but there is one moment when I absolutely knew – for certain – that teaching is what I was meant to do.
Mrs. Strandquist was my 10th grade biology teacher. She was strict but fair, had tremendous expectations of us, loved what she taught, and was interested in her students as humans. She was the kind of teacher you wanted to impress, the one who tolerated no nonsense in her room, but made learning fun and exciting. As an adult I find that incredibly impressive - it’s a pretty bold job commanding order in a room full of 16-year-olds with scalpels in their hands. (Biology in Mrs. Strandquist’s room was a hands-on affair, part of what made it so memorable.)
My senior year, I asked Mrs. Strandquist if I could stand in for her during Student Takeover Day – an annual event during Senior Week. She agreed and then asked, “What would you like to teach that day?”
I was shocked. I thought I just had to dress nicely, sit at her desk, and watch students ad she taught them. Not in Mrs. Strandquist’s room. If I was standing in, I was standing all in.
After we discussed the content I would teach, I had to watch her plan the lesson. She made me go over what I would say and do, and the afternoon before Takeover Day she had me draw diagrams and write the notes students would need to take on the chalkboard.
I was a nervous wreck the next morning when the first period students walked in, but I had my plan and started class. Teaching 10th graders about the structure of the eye may not sound all that glamorous, but I loved it. I felt so at ease, so comfortable, and I knew – for certain – that I was supposed to be a teacher.
I doubt that Mrs. Strandquist remembers me and I’m almost certain that she does not remember my taking over her class, but it was probably the most memorable day of my high school career.
Dear Mrs. Strandquist,
You may have officially been my biology teacher, but you taught me so much more. Thank you.
Marcia (Green) Porter