It seems strange that one teacher can change one’s life, but it’s true. Of course, we’d all laugh at the Future Teachers of America posters. I did, but not anymore.
It all began on the first day of school in 1966, when my schedule card said “American History II, Rm 119″ next to the 6th period slot. I had wanted Mr. Harbison in Rm 120, but what I got was a first-year teacher who almost turned the whole school upside-down. Mrs. Docktor.
Our school usually didn’t assign newly-graduated teachers for the Senior Class, in part because they weren’t all that much older than us. It was highly unusual, however, for a teacher with a B.A. instead of an M.A. to be chosen to teach American Government, for some reason. But she was the greatest!
Almost immediately, she was in hot water over her law-school-like approach; we weren’t used to a woman teacher who (as we said then) “thought like a man”. She surely was not going to be “ladylike” when it came to teaching us how our government really worked, and the school hated it. Many of us wrote praises of her in our yearbooks that June—even one of my friends who had hated Mrs. Docktor.
What she did for me went way beyond teaching, though. I suppose she thought she was only “doing her job”, but if she hadn’t clued me in on the correct way to answer essay questions I would have flunked out of college in my first term. My fondest memories of her were the way she proudly carried herself, her wonderful sense of sarcastic humor, and her enthusiasm for the subject she taught. At times it seemed as if her words sparkled, she was so animated. Thank you, Mrs. Docktor.
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