November Thanks – The Impact of Teachers

Thankful for TeachersNow that it’s November, it’s tough for those of us in the States to not think about Thanksgiving and all that holiday will bring. It’s also a good time to think about the things we are thankful for, not just the fantabulous feast we will enjoy with family and friends. As I listened to my granddaughter talk about her favorite teachers this year in middle school, it made me think of the teachers in my past that were my favorites or for whom I was thankful. Would my favorite be dreamy Mr. Gass, my high school geometry teacher? Think clean cut, farm-work-muscled, soulful eyed….let’s just say I never skipped missed his class! What about Ms. Aberlich –  all 5 feet of intensity, tough as nails, knows her stuff backwards forwards, sideways and upside down self!!! She taught me the mechanics of writing in a way that I wish everyone in the world had been taught!

It really is no contest though. As the teacher I would most like to thank for all she taught me about myself, about the subject and about people, I have to chose Ms. Tharpe. She taught English and I had her for Shakespeare I and II. She was tough. She would kick you out of her class for attitude or lack of participation or not being prepared, but she always gave you a clean slate when you returned. She had her favorites too, and I worked so hard in her class to prove myself worthy of ‘favored’ status. My papers and projects reflected many many hours of time and thought at a level I didn’t work at for other classes. I needlepointed a canvas of ‘What Fools These Mortals Be’ to accompany my paper on Shakespeares’s fools. WAY impressive – I couldn’t wait to get her feedback. I learned that I was capable of creative thought, careful research, and hard work. I learned I had something to say and that saying it was important.

Her classes included field trips to Stratford, ONT for live Shakespeare performances. I’m not gonna lie, those field trips were what originally sold me on signing up for her class. El and I worked VERY creatively to get as much ‘unauthorized activity’ (aka – everything we weren’t supposed to be doing) in during those trips. Ms. Tharpe won me over though. She was unconventional in the way you knew she felt she was cool and cute and popular in her seriously overweight figure, mousy brown too thin hair styled in the fashionable Farrah Fawcett haircut of the day. And you know something, she was cool and cute and popular without any of the physical attributes so highly touted in high school! That was another valuable lesson for all of us.

Thank you Ms. Tharpe. – M

Please share your favorite teacher with us – the one for whom you are most thankful.



  1. those were the days when teachers took us places that meant something! Mine was my Modern European History teacher in High School- she would tell us interesting facts about people +she gave us essays not multiple choice!!! I could sell myself for a grade-lol:-) The others were every science teacher I ever had for they were ALL good:-) I also liked going to the opera when I was 15-priceless….Farrah Fawcett hair-boy that really pegs us in history!

  2. also…I can see why Pauline loves your blog-you have an ease with telling a story:-)you would be labeled “gifted” today!

    1. Thanks Robbie – so glad Pauline has led you to us. We do love Pauline and all the others that send us great bloggers!!!

      Sounds like you had some great teachers. History and Science, those are great subjects that at first glance you wouldn’t necessarily see connected but they are so intertwined! Can’t tell a good story without a little of each 🙂 – M

  3. Wow, M, you put a whole new spin on Ms. Tharpe for me! I took her classes, too, and I was never a favorite that I can recall. (I do recall she expected my brothers to live up to the reputation El and I established, but of course they could not!) Your physical description is spot on, and while my memories of her are more character-related than education-related, I can’t help wonder if she planted some seeds in me that I’m unaware of. I guess I’ll have to think on that.

    The teacher I will always remember was my biology teacher, who at the time was Mrs. Roberts (later Ms. Baugh.) I liked her class, but what set her apart for me was that she always acted like she cared about me and my teen-aged crises. She listened. That’s priceless.

    1. I can see her spinning Natine – hair flying, arms flung :)))!!! My siblings had tough time living up to my reputation too (both for the good things and the bad).

      I remember Ms. Baugh but I never had her as a teacher. It really is amazing the impact a teacher can have on us while we are growing up. I can remember several that were life-savers for me and my girls.

      Thank you Natine for teaching, thereby touching lives and making an impact!!! – M

  4. Well, I’ll have to go with the farm-work-muscled, clean cut, soulful eyed Bill Gass. What a perfect description of him. I choose him as my favorite, not for academics, but because he was my friend. He was supportive and I could talk with him about many things. In reflecting on our relationship, years later, I realized that he was the big brother that I didn’t have and I have remained grateful for that all this time.

    A few years back I got the opportunity to speak to him and found out things that I didn’t know, or didn’t remember….such as…his strong Christian faith, his long term commitment to his family – wife and sons, and that he and his wife started a mission in South America and had been building schools there.

    I always knew he was a good guy, but in the naïveté of youth, didn’t realize how deeply that went. He will always hold a special place in my heart and memories. Thanks, Bill, for your friendship and kindnesses. A special gift for me.

    1. Annette – thank you for the inside scoop!! Thrilled to know I didn’t just fall for another pretty face!!! I knew there was a reason I remembered him after all these years. I couldn’t prove a theorem to save my life these days but I am thankful to know what a special man Mr. Gass truly is! – M

      1. And I wanted to say OMG Annette when I first read your comment and realized someone other than Natine and EL knew Mr. Gass. I was blushing to have bared my soul to a fellow IKE grad!!! 🙂

    2. I have a couple of favorites but I too love the inside scoop Annette. Although I was unaware of his strong faith, Mr Gass was always a kind man and a good teacher. Math was definitely one of my weaknesses but he did make Algebra I and II interesting. M what a funny description of Ms Tharpe. I can totally see her hair flying around. When I think of most of our high school teachers now I realize just how young they were. Back then they seemed ancient as the days. I must say that Mr Reid was my all time favorite teacher. My love for music and singing was an important part of my high school career. My other memorable teacher, surprisingly was Mr Schwartz, the history teacher. He definitely was not one of the “better” teachers and many students found him quite annoying. However, I discovered a love for history in spite of his teaching.
      Being in education for the past 20 years I have a strong respect for those men and women who chose to become a teacher. The pay will not make a person rich and today, the discipline issues can be overwhelming.

      1. Hello Ginny! I do remember Mr. Reid being very well loved by his students. It seems Choir teachers connect with students in a lasting and deeply felt way. Mr. Bradford did not engender the same tender feeling amongst us Band members but I still loved Band class and marching through the halls with pep band and playing at football games etc… Could be similar to your History experience – you loved the class and got past your feelings for the teacher. History was an acquired taste for me; wish I would have paid more attention back in school as I am fascinated now.

        Are you an educator or working within the school system? Either way, I thank you for your impact on the system and/or on the students that come through it each year. – M

        1. Ginny is a phenominal pre-K teacher! (And she did not pay me to say so! 😉 )

  5. Teachers – so much to answer for! Mrs Silversides (yes, really) was my first primary school teacher and I remember she played the piano a lot and wore pearls. She was very kind.
    In my later school years I suppose I should be grateful for Mr Coles who took us for geography. He was scary and made us stand in front of the class to present our projects. I hated doing this – one of my memorable projects was on icebergs – but it taught me to talk to groups without fear which later stood me in good stead in my PR role. Our English Lit teacher was a bit mad but he taught us to love Shakespeare too – and that is a gift.

    1. LOL so true Jenny! They can make or break us!!!

      Mrs. Silversides sounds like a name straight out of a novel – love it.

      ‘Scary’ and ‘Mad’ and yet you managed to retain the positives from your teachers also – that is a gift!!! 🙂 – M

  6. Such a leading question M! I had a traumatic childhood and school was my safe place – I loved it. Even the not so good teachers were okay in my book! I have a list a mile long of teachers who, without realising it, nourished and encouraged me. Through primary [grade] and secondary [high] my eyes and heart were opened by story tellers and expectations and encouragement and success! I went on to become a teacher. 🙂

    1. Sorry to hear that your childhood held trauma and hurt for you Pauline – thanks for sharing that information. One never knows another’s story unless offered.

      I have no doubt that you were a teacher many students remember fondly and are thankful to have been in your class. Having worked in the classroom myself, I know just how important and vital the ‘safety’ of a classroom can be for so many students. Thank you for impacting your students’ lives.

      What little we know of you here at FBFGF is all positive energy; we are thankful for those in your life that helped you ride out the storms of your childhood. – M

  7. Mrs. Buser, my third grade teacher, will never be forgotten. She had to have been at least 70 years old, but she was a spitfire and kept the class in line. Every one said they didn’t like her, but deep down, I know every one loved her. Great memories!

    1. It is so true that those tough teachers leave an impression that sometimes isn’t appreciated until later in life. I know that as kids, it’s nice to know what is expected of you and what the guidelines are – it sets up a nice ‘safety’ zone and can keep unwanted surprises from coming at you blindly.

      Isn’t it fun to look back. I can picture many teachers so clearly in my mind. Even those that I didn’t care for. Makes one wonder, what impressions have we left behind 🙂 – M

      1. It is fun and it truly is a great memory. When I think of Mrs. Buser, I smile. She obviously chose to work way past her retirement age because she loved what she did. She put fear into everyone who entered her classroom, but you knew she truly cared. She had our desks set up in a giant circle, so we could all see each other and interact. She was awesome.

  8. My favorite teacher was in grade 2. Spelling mistakes meant marks deducted on exams Yes, in grade 2. I needed to used ‘rabbit’ in an answer but was afraid it might not be spelled correctly so I drew a tiny one in the middle of my sentence. She gave me and EXTRA mark for being creative. <3 <3

    1. LOVE it! I’ll bet you are a very accurate speller and/or a very conscientious reviewer/editor!!! How fun to be rewarded for your creativity which your teacher unwittingly inspired :). I find that if I am unsure about grammar or the proper use of a word, I write around it or write it out of my sentence. I think that is Ms. Aberlich’s legacy for me! Problem solving (creativity at its finest), that is what all teachers should be cultivating!!! – M

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