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Life Skills Support Teacher

When I consider the character

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When I consider the character Holden Caulfield, I most identify with his utter dislike for phonies. Many of the phonies I know of post to blogs which herald the surrender of our children to a highly tech centric existence. The people who post to these blogs are likely addicted tech junkies who wish to transform another generation into extensions of themselves-- soulless, impersonal, and overly materialistic robots who never question or be skeptical of who dominates our culture, i.e. the agents representing Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue. Holden Caulfield would have held them in contempt because THEY are in that same league of phonies.

It's funny, those same Gen Xers and Millennials who inveigh against the 1% are the same ones blindly surrendering their money to Silicon Valley and whatever pop culture inspired product necessary to "conform."

In 2006, which was my 6th

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In 2006, which was my 6th year as a teacher, I was the recipient of a thank you letter written by a young lady who has gone on to become an English major. As it happens her favorite book was Catcher in the Rye. In her letter, the student used the exact description cited in the post to describe me. She said that she felt that it was really the job of teachers to serve as catchers for students who for whatever reason can be blown off course by the turbulence of high school life, and that until she met me, no other teacher ever fit this description. Although I was not a rookie teacher, I knew I had much to learn, and occasionally felt despondent about my own performance, especially on those overly trying days. This single letter, composed by a 10th grade student, solidified the ground beneath my feet. The letter, which is really my Rosetta stone, has been preserved under glass and continues to serve as a reminder for me about the often unseen impact teachers have on their students.
I am posting this here not to be self serving or to brag, but instead to share my good fortunes with many others who have served as catchers, but may not have gotten such eloquent and heartfelt thanks. Although it might sound cliche and threadbare, the truth is that we really do make a difference.

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Samer: Thanks for posting

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Samer:

Thanks for posting that tribute Samer.
Bias can be really good, and deserved.
Related to that, the teacher in Hayward I describe is my daughter! :-)

Mark

Community Manager at Edutopia

I'm going to be biased and

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I'm going to be biased and talk about my wife. She's taught for nearly 20 years, first adults and then children, at a handful of schools during that time. They were all good schools, even the ones that weren't, but I'm thinking of one school in particular. It was a school that had too many kids in the classroom and not enough resources; where they taped things together because they couldn't afford better and many of the kids came from gang families.

And yet she showed up every day and did her best. I saw her pour herself into the job, puzzle out what it took to reach each one of those kids, and most times she made it through. The kids got better at their lessons. More importantly, there was genuine wonder and learning and all the good stuff that you hope for as a teacher. There were a few though that she couldn't reach, and she'd worry about where they'd end up. They break your heart, those few.

Some of her students come back to visit her classroom on a regular basis after they moved on. She put them to work: cleaning, organizing, making things for the classroom they left behind.

Now she's starting at new school. Different kids, different classroom, same spirit.

Teacher, Writer, and Artist

OLD SKOOL: WAY BACK IN 10TH

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OLD SKOOL: WAY BACK IN 10TH GRADE

When I was in 10th grade I had American literature for 6th period. Our teacher, Old Errol Sanders, passed out the book we were going to study. It was a book about two street urchins who float down the Mississippi River on a log raft. Oh, boy ... we were going to learn the deeper literary meaning of why two street urchins would want to float down the Mississippi River on a log raft written by a guy who was using a fake name. I wondered how much money my parents were paying for me to go to this nice school.

Old Errol taught the book by standing in front of the class while he read from the book word for word for word. He never wrote anything on the chalkboard. He had three posters on the cinderblock walls. That was it. It was old school.

While he was reading, every once in a while he’d stop and lift his head and pontificate about the literary significance of something in the story like a cow. Then, every once in a while, Old Errol would stop and ask us what we thought of what he just read. We’d wake up and look at each other and giggle. You could tell Old Errol thought the school wasn’t paying him enough money to teach at this nice school.

In 12th grade I had Old Errol again for literature. I think it was second period. He read Flannery O’Connor stories to us, word for word, which was fine with me, because Jerry finally got kicked out of school and now I was the class president and a member of the honor council and I was finally flying straight and wanted to get into a decent college. Old Errol said one story of hers was really going to affect you. He read it.

It did.

At the moment of grace in A Good Man is Hard to Find, I discovered what I thought might be my calling—good typing. I had no idea when I’d be called, but I kept my ears open for a long time after that. Thirty-one years later my first novel, Toonamint of Champions, got published. I dedicated it to Old Errol Sanders.

Now I'm a teacher, too, a reunited one, right across the hall from Old Errol, but at a different school way across town, where all day long I can hear him ... still reading good stories.

www.actionjacksonart.com

Teacher and Educational Journalist

This new column by Marian

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This new column by Marian Wright Edelman is a perfect companion piece to my column.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3733272

Teacher and Educational Journalist

What a lovely and poignant

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What a lovely and poignant tribute Teresa.
Thank you for sharing it.

Mark

[quote]My Catcher in the Rye has passed away, but his memory lingers in my mind. He is the reason I became a math teacher. Mr. Boyer was the math teacher no one wanted. He was strict, tough, pushed kids to the limit, and made successes of many of us. I first had him for Algebra I, after being told I was not ever going to be a "scientific" kind of girl. I had taken high level math classes in Jr. High and done well, but was not exceptional. Mr. Boyer was there early in the morning, and I spent many mornings in his classroom, re-working problems until they were exactly right. He never tired of questioning me, or encouraging me to think in other ways. I passed his class with 98%, and chose to take him again for Geometry the next year. I received an A+ in geometry, 100%, and he moved me into Honors math from there on. I went on to major in nursing, but 15 years later went back to school to earn a BS in Mathematics, feeling that teaching math was where I belong. I can only hope to have a small piece of the kind of inspiration in someone's life that he gave to me.[/quote]

HS Math Teacher/Academic Coach

My Catcher in the Rye has

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My Catcher in the Rye has passed away, but his memory lingers in my mind. He is the reason I became a math teacher. Mr. Boyer was the math teacher no one wanted. He was strict, tough, pushed kids to the limit, and made successes of many of us. I first had him for Algebra I, after being told I was not ever going to be a "scientific" kind of girl. I had taken high level math classes in Jr. High and done well, but was not exceptional. Mr. Boyer was there early in the morning, and I spent many mornings in his classroom, re-working problems until they were exactly right. He never tired of questioning me, or encouraging me to think in other ways. I passed his class with 98%, and chose to take him again for Geometry the next year. I received an A+ in geometry, 100%, and he moved me into Honors math from there on. I went on to major in nursing, but 15 years later went back to school to earn a BS in Mathematics, feeling that teaching math was where I belong. I can only hope to have a small piece of the kind of inspiration in someone's life that he gave to me.

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