This week one of my high school English teachers died of cancer. Mrs. Ketterer was a force to be reckoned with so I didn’t think cancer would actually kill her. At the very least, I know Death got an ear full.
Mrs. Ketterer was one of the five best teachers I ever had. I simultaneous feared, respected, and loved that woman. You have not read a book until you read it with Mrs. Ketterer. You have not diagramed a sentence until you diagramed it on the board in front of the class under her watchful eye.
I learned more from her because she pounded it into me in seventh, ninth, and again in eleventh grade. It was a small school district. The only things she didn’t teach me were the things I actively choose not to learn. In fact, I still struggle with gerunds and participles. But that’s my fault, and I take complete ownership of those shortcomings.
Today, the state would hold her accountable for that lack of learning because there is no checkbox that says, “Student refused to learn content.” There should be though.
Much of my life’s success I owe to Mrs. Ketterer. She made me a better reader and better writer. That doesn’t happen easily. It happens with repeated practice—practice that isn’t always pleasant for student or teacher.
Today, I enjoy reading and writing. I give her credit for that. There should be a checkbox on a teacher evaluation for that too.
Mrs. Ketterer was not alone. We have forces to be reckoned with here at LS*. Jeff Marsh. Katrina Swarr. Carol Allen-Gordon. The entire English Department! In fact, LS is full of dedicated people with high standards willing to pound the lesson into a student.
Forget the negativity surrounding the profession found in the commentary section of the paper. Forget the blame for society’s woes the pundits lay at our feet. Forget the financial collapse our pension supposedly caused the economy.
Instead remember that you too are a force to be reckoned with having positively impacted many lives for many years. And when Death knocks at your door, you will be able to give him an ear full too.
* Me omitting your name above is not meant to imply your lack of “force.” It simply means I am unaware of it. We rarely get to see each other practicing our craft.