Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Thank a teacher
REVERE HIGH SCHOOL, MASSACHUSETTS, c. 1950
It's hard to rank all the things I have to be thankful for, but high up there on my list is School. From my first days to just last month in a writing workshop, I've been thankful for learning and those who provide the environment for it.
When I was 6, school was my refuge from a—let's call it "less than pleasant" homelife. My teachers, probably without knowing it, served up the happiest hours of my days. My husband says that's the reason I love to give and to take classes even now.
My high school Italian teacher, Signorina Mafera, died at age 99 a couple of years ago. When she was only 94, she wanted to read my then-new periodic table mystery novels. "I need to learn more about science," she told me.
Every summer, Signorina Mafera took a class in a subject she knew nothing about, so she'd understand better what her freshmen would be going through in the fall. She never married (she hinted that there might have been a dark, handsome man on a cruise one year) and was dedicated to us. She was a very slight woman, but we knew if we failed to work as hard as she did, there'd be Dante's L'Inferno to pay. In a town where only a small fraction of the population even thought of college, and the median income was always well below the state's average, Signorina Mafera made us read La Commedia in Italian.
We stayed in touch through the years, and I know I thanked her often for her great influence on my life. I wish I could thank all the other teachers I might not have had the wisdom to acknowledge at the time.
I'll try to make up for it now by saying Thanks to dedicated teachers everywhere!
And to non-teachers as well, I wish a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!