23 April 2006

Mrs. Livingston, I presume

Further ruminating on Mr. Holland's Opus quickly brings one of my childhood teachers to mind. In my previous entry, I remark that the movie "...shows how teachers can inspire students, and how some of the more talented ones can take creative paths to reach students who might not respond via more conventional means."

Looking back on my own life, one teacher met that challenge ... and, above all else, affected and inspired me in such a positive way:

Mrs. Sara Livingston. She was my 4th grade homeroom & English teacher (1974-75) at Pierce Street Elementary School in Tupelo, Miss. She had a profoundly unique way of teaching English, and between her and my paternal grandmother, taught me an appreciation for words and the wonderful English language.

And that, by the way, is not a pseudonym. In case Google picks this up, I'd love for there to be a chance either Mrs. Livingston herself, or one of her children, might see it. Teachers often labor without any appreciation expressed for their efforts. They make embarrassingly poor wages given the power and importance of work they do. Okay, sure, a doctor makes a six-figure salary. Great. Who bloody TEACHES the doctor??!!??!!

Doctors, athletes, CEOs and members of Congress make disgracefully high salaries, while those who teach them struggle with terrible pay, no overtime (Summers off?? HAH! Maybe for part of it, but teachers are paid for nine months of the year -- if they get a paycheck for 12 months it's because their pay is reduced for the nine months to 'fund' the other three checks.), and -- most importantly and outrageously -- have to pay for most supplies out of their own pockets!

Think about that fact long and hard, good people. In my work, in Seraphim's work, and I dare say in Nettiemac's and Bolivar's work ... who pays for the supplies and tools we need to do our jobs?? I know in my case it's my employer! When the toner cartridge in my laser printer starts kicking the big one, I mention that to my station manager. Then, on his next trip to Office Depot, he buys another cartridge for me with the Visa card assigned him by the state. I'm sure Bolivar's manager at Kroger also has an expense account with which to procure office supplies, etc.

But teachers? Hah! My ex-wife is a 6th grade teacher, and when the toner in her printer started giving out, do you think she went to her principal and said, "I'm going to need another cartridge."? Not if she didn't want to be laughed out of her office!

We have bad teachers, Lord knows I had my share of 'em. The ones who make you shake your fist at the whole tenure system. The system isn't perfect. Still, the way we treat the good teachers (who, I have to believe, outnumber the bad), is a national disgrace.

People who inspire us to be who we are today. And they have to buy their own @#$%ing supplies.

God bless America.

Mrs. Livingston, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for taking an interest in a social outcast who had some trouble adjusting back in those weird days. I have no doubt there's a special place for you in Heaven.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Apple Scruff" Gleck

No comments: