Did you know that today is National Teachers Day? With everything going on right now, I didn’t either until I had to google something and found this:
Growing up, I didn’t like school particularly much. It was an all-girls Catholic school and it was strict. The teachers weren’t all really nice and being one of the strange girls who grew up with only boys (brothers and all-boy cousins), being around girls just didn’t suit me. I didn’t understand them at all. They loved to gossip and tease and some teachers had obvious favorites, especially among the wealthy students (I would learn decades later from the favorite ones that their parents donated huge amounts to the school) and so they were exempt from most everything. One of them didn’t even have to do any homework in high school and she still passed.
Meanwhile, I sucked in Math.
Enter Ms. Chua in fourth grade who tutored the slow ones like me after class. I didn’t mind staying behind. Because of her, I learned to like division, which was where I apparently stalled and soon I was passing Math again.
I don’t remember much about high school although the principal, Sister Jeri, was instrumental in getting my so-called writing career going when she took me out of the drama club and put me in Poetry Club. She wasn’t exactly a teacher, but she was a teacher in that regard. She taught me that while writing NSFW content and passing it around during Homeroom wasn’t exactly ideal at that point in my life (8th grade and the reason she pulled me out of Drama club instead of telling my mom or suspending me – yes, we struck a deal), learning about Shakespeare and the world’s greatest poets were.
In college, I remember Professor McGuire, my anthropology professor who married a Filipino woman, a social worker, and who was so active in social justice. He founded a nonprofit to get street children off the streets, at least to give them a safe place to be kids in the college grounds during the weekends. He also really tried to put an end to child (s)exploitation and I still remember my father telling me I was treading on dangerous ground to be involved in it – too many powerful people, too much money changing hands. Years later, Professor McGuire told me he had to stop fighting. I’ll never forget seeing him in his motorcycle with his son and daughter riding with him.
As an entry massage student in 1997, I had two wonderful instructors in Amanda and John, who taught from the heart and who were patient when it came to my own journey of self-discovery about my own body when it came to touch. Same goes for Janice Vitavec and Rose Griscom, the late Mama Lek Chaiya and her son, Jack Chaiya – all of them teaching me everything they knew about traditional Thai massage and helping me grow the most when it came to bodywork. Gentle, intuitive learning, it turned out, was just my style when it came to learning and later, teaching. Unfortunately, that type of teaching is not in line with many corporate-backed massage schools that believe in teaching only from modules and cold textbooks, and so I am grateful for having learned from these wonderful teachers when I did. I’m also happy to have taught for as long as I’ve been able to before I officially quit that gig last month.
So many teachers, so little time to honor them but I am forever grateful for how they’ve touched me and helped make me what I am.
What about you? Who is/are your favorite teacher(s)?