As a former teacher, I know that when teachers get down they often worry their students are forgetting everything the minute they leave the classroom. This may be the case sometimes (it definitely was with my junior year Physics class – sorry Mr. Calignia) but not always. In fact, there are things my teachers did that I can still remember clear as a bell even though they happened 20-30 years ago.
Unfortunately, not all of these things were great, and some were actually kind of messed up. Here are three examples of messed up things my teachers did that I will never forget.
Out of the entire first grade the thing I remember the most happened on the last day of school. Our teacher, Mrs. Bertolatti, announced that, before we could be dismissed for the Summer, we each had to come to the front of the room and give her a kiss on the cheek. I nearly fell out of my seat.
“I’M GOING TO HAVE TO KISS…HER?!?!!?”
My classmates were equally horrified, and I’m pretty sure a few of us considered waiting out the Summer in the classroom as an alternative to puckering up. Soon Mrs. Bertolatti began calling students up alphabetically, and as she worked through the alphabet I felt sick to my stomach.
“Psst,” the kid next to me said. “You don’t actually have to kiss her. Just lick two of your fingers and press them against her cheek. She’ll never know!” The kid next to me did just that when it was his turn (crafty, little bastard) but I was too afraid I might get caught. I forced myself to kiss her, and I’ll never forget how wet her cheek was from having been kissed by twenty slobbering kids before me. Blech.
“I Know What You’re Going Through”
When I was fourteen I went through an awkward period, a fact which made starting high school at a school where my older sister was a pretty cheerleader difficult. On the first day there, for example, I overheard a cute sophomore say to her friend, “That is Monica’s brother? Ugh. Sadness. I was hoping he would be hot.” As hurtful as that comment was, however, it was nothing compared to the one my Speech teacher made apropos of nothing one day.
“You know, Mike, I know what you’re going through,” she began. “I was the ugly sibling too, and I hated that my sister got all the attention. But you know what I did? I focused on my academics to distinguish myself. You should try that.”
I slumped out of class unsure of what I should be more offended by: having been called “ugly,” or the inference that I wasn’t trying hard in school.
This last story isn’t really messed up, it’s actually pretty cool, but I can’t pass up the chance to tell it. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Pierce, had a reputation as a great teacher who was very strict, and while she was strict, my fellow students and I respected her tremendously because we were learning so much. We also understood that we were lucky to have her because she was in her sixties and soon to retire.
One day a woman suddenly screamed outside the classroom. We all turned and looked out the window to see our female principal being attacked by a hulking sixth grade boy who, in retrospect, clearly had a lot of emotional problems. Mrs. Pierce dropped her math book, then bolted across the room and threw open the classroom door. The other students and I ran to the window just in time to see Mrs. Pierce tackle the kid like she was Lawrence Taylor herself. After seeing that, you can bet we were well behaved the rest of the year.
For the record I also remember a lot of terrific, inspirational moments with teachers, but those don’t make for nearly as interesting stories. Man, thinking about this stuff makes me glad I’m no longer in school. It could be a messed up place sometimes, couldn’t it?