by Melissa Brunner
I can't let National Teacher Appreciation Week pass without acknowledging the great teachers who touched my life. A recent speech to the Topeka North Rotary's annual educator appreciation luncheon gave me a chance to take a trip down memory lane.
Remember your kindergarten teacher? Besides your parents, the first person who really got you excited about learning new things? Mine was Miss Hutchinson (now Mrs. Beschta). I still remember the characters that would visit the classroom with their special songs to teach us the letters of the alphabet, like Rubber Band Man for the letter "R." One wet Easter, we returned from the holiday weekend to find muddy rabbit foot prints on the carpet.
First grade was Mrs. Rush and our class stayed with her through third grade, getting our first taste of science and especially phonics! For fourth and fifth grade, it was Mrs. Scherrer, a teacher who really challenged us to challenge ourselves. In the later elementary years, I especially remember Ms. Severson. Thanks to her, to this day, I diagram sentences in my head while I write! I can see the lines angling off in my mind and know the sentence is getting way to strung along and complicated! There also was Sister Loretta, a nun who, at one time, worked for NASA. She decided I wasn't challenged enough in math and contacted the teachers at the public school for me to take high school algebra independently at the Catholic grade school.
I could list a bunch of high school teachers who impacted me for various reasons - math teacher Mr. La Fleur, drama/English teacher Ms. Deenor, the Mr. Evans for science and the Mr. Evans for social studies, music teacher Mr. Cisler. But, given my career path, I cannot forget Mrs. Wilhelm, "Mother Dee." She was my journalism teacher and the school newspaper and yearbook advisor. She helped me channel my annoying habit of asking questions about everything in a positive direction! These days, she still provides encouragement as a Facebook friend!
Teachers touch our lives in so many ways and it's unfortunate that we often don't appreciate it until years after we've left their classrooms. Thanks, teachers, for putting up with us and believing in us!