Many years ago, my husband and I attended our 20th high school reunion. My husband and I had all the same friends all through school because we were “boyfriend and girlfriend” during all those years. Our reunion was like any other: old friends, new kids, sharing updates, and enjoying the company of some of our most favorite people we will ever know. As the evening waned on, our closest friends, and the two of us, were sitting around a huge round table and telling stories of yesteryear.
Then someone said it, the question that led to the concept that is the driving force behind this book, “Okay, guys, who was your favorite teacher you ever had?” Real names and real stories with real feelings entertained us for the next hour. We laughed and cried while we remembered our favorite teachers of all time.
Then, as we all knew it would, came the next question. “If they were the best, then who was the worst teacher you ever had?” Real names and real stories with real feelings brought back feelings of angst for the next hour or so. Most of the stories dealt with hurt feelings and with teachers who didn’t seem to care. Maybe those teachers really did care, but they had not figured out how to show it to kids. This part of the evening bothered me because I don’t like it when people talk bad about others. It also bothered me because I knew some of those teachers on a personal level because my dad was the high school principal, and later an Associate Superintendent, and my mom was the junior high principal. But the effects were the same – what you do to kids (no matter their age) stays with them for a lifetime.
The following day, as my husband and I were driving home, I told him that the best and worst teacher stories really bothered me. He figured it was because I didn’t like hearing all the sad stories about the worst teachers. I told him, although I wasn’t too fond of the negative comments, that the part that truly disturbed me was the fact that most teachers were not mentioned at all. Seriously, after an entire school year, nine months, 36 weeks, 180 days, there are teachers who could manage to escape the best and worst lists? What happened in that classroom that none of us brought up your name?