October 5, 2010

Teachers That Shape Us

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As a homeschooling mom, one of the most exciting things I get to do is share my love of knowledge and learning. Yah, I’m one of those girls that likes math and science. And fortunately, in high school I had many other girls to keep me company. Trig, Physics, Calculus, all classes that I really liked.  But, I have to give credit where credit is due.  I had great teachers. Teachers who really cared. And I also had classmates that wanted to learn.

My Physics teacher was Mr. Bujanda. I think he secretly disliked me. Well, not so secretly really. Not because I was smart or anything like that. Rather, he had favorites and I wasn’t one of them. And then I went on to win my group for the Texas Junior Academy of Science and his faves didn’t. And I was the only girl! But his lack of deference toward me is actually what made me try harder to succeed. What he didn’t know was how much I really loved math and science and he’s one of the two people who I credit for that.

Mr. B, as we all called him, had favorites. I wasn’t one of them, for a number of reasons. One of which was that I was relentless if I wanted to do something. And when our school was putting together the High-Q (think quiz bowl or one of those types of geek squads) team, Mr. B was the advisor and he knew exactly who would be on the team. Until I decided that I wanted to try out. There were only 2 girls, me and Amy W. Lucky for me, he disliked her more than he disliked me. We had mock events and had to answer all kinds of random questions, just like at a competition. When it came down to picking the team, I’d proven myself. I was on the team! It was a great team and my teammates were great guys, a few of whom I would still be able to have pleasant conversations with. But it was obvious I was seen as the token girl. Very few schools had girls on their teams. From what I remember there were only 2 or 3 other girls out of a total of 50 or 60 kids.

Mr. B never believed in me. But I did. And I believed in him and his leadership and his passion not only for knowledge but for being the best. And to this day, it is because of him that I continuously seek knowledge and opportunities to better myself .

My favorite math teacher was Mr. Mullens. I had him for Algebra II and Calculus. There were only 10 or so kids in my Calculus class, pretty evenly split between boys and girls which was pretty cool. Mr. Mullen is probably my all-time favorite teacher. He made math so easy. And, he let me call him Mr. Muffens.  So, the story as to why I called him Mr. Muffens (and, yes, he signed my year book that way too!) began when I transferred into the school. Not only did I start the school year late at this new school, by time they finished with the enrollment I was late for class.  I was handed my new schedule and directed to my Algebra II class.  The woman who wrote out the class schedule had very ornate handwriting.  And I was about 15. Had no clue what it really said, so I did my best.

I knocked on the door and was greeted by an older male teacher, probably in his 50s at the time. I introduced my self and asked if he was Mr. Muffens. Yep, endearing myself from the get-go! The class roared at my faux-pas. He was polite and just directed me to an open seat. It was weeks before anyone told me his name was Mr. Mullens. By which time I’d called him Mr. Muffens, oh, something like 367 times! As an adult, I’m mortified (still, 20+ years later). As a teen, I was clueless and unphased. Within a few weeks we were all calling him Mr. Muffens, and he didn’t mind.

But what these two men, with very different personalities, shared with me was their passion for science and math, respectively. Finally I had found a place where it was OK for girls to like learning non-traditional subject. Where I wasn’t the only one. There were others who were definitely much smarter than I (I graduated #11 in my class of 419). All of us were comfortable in our so-called geekness.

And here I am, two decades later hoping to instill that love of knowledge, specifically math and science, into my own child. Tonight, BabyGirl and I are going to a screening of Waiting for Superman. Education can change a life. I’m proof of that.

We all have favorite teachers, who were yours?

Sara

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