This month the curators were encouraged to update the thoughts about school exhibit… not necessarily a back to school exhibit, for which my curator heaved a sigh of relief. No need to stress over my lack of “back to school wardrobe, notebooks, binders, pencils, etc.” Whew! It is not my desire to have you all feel sorry for me…at age 61 I promise you that my lack of those things then have had no lasting impact on my well-being now.
Likewise, this will not be a picture heavy post but rather a bit of a commentary on my thoughts about school… of which I have a few… thoughts that is!
I had a “love hate” relationship with school. I have already shared that I was the child who was picked last for everything. I had some amazing teachers – who are still impacting my life today! As well as some less than amazing ones, who thankfully, I barely remember them today.
However, today I am going to talk about two teachers that altered my life dramatically…
When I went to high school (back in pre-historic times, lol) every sophomore had to take “Speech Class” – it was required for graduation. And, somehow, the education gods smiled on me because my teacher was magnificent! Mr. Berghorst opened my eyes to a world beyond Holland, Michigan. He challenged me to over come my fears of public speaking – for which I am profoundly grateful. He also inspired us to read… everything. His class room had a border of dozens of The New Yorker covers encircling it. He had a copy of The NY Times in his classroom for students to read. He knew that reading could take us anywhere and everywhere – and he encouraged us to read to learn, not just to read for “fun”!
The other “set” of teachers that changed my life were the cluster of history teachers I had in high school. They unlocked for me my deep and abiding thirst to learn about the past…every bit of the past, but the one who most significantly altered my life was my “Michigan History” teacher, Mr. Schaap. Michigan History was a required class for graduation as well, and I took it my junior year. Through Mr. Schaap, I learned a bit of the ugly history of Holland Michigan. (What today, I am certain would be erroneously classified as CRT and removed from the curriculum!) But Mr. Schaap also helped me start the Young Democrats. There was a group of us (laughably, The Young Democrats were a larger group than The Young Republicans) and we worked with the Ottawa County Democrats and even helped get the first Democrat elected to a county seat! Through Mr. Schaap, I made some delightful connections within my community that I did not know existed. (Apparently, there were lots of ‘hidden Democrats’ in Holland! HA) I also learned that the best history is the history that is painful to learn… because that process is the one that begins change.
I think often of these two men and the impact they had on my life. I also think that sometimes taking a class you think you will absolutely not like, or don’t see the value of what you might learn in that class… is exactly what you need to do. Go in, open your mind, listen, challenge yourself to do what you think you cannot, learn something painful, and grow! Those things are the keys to success in life…
Thank you for stopping and listening to me share a bit about my thoughts on school. I would like to thank Kym for leading us (and for the new artwork!)
Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!
Your post struck a chord with me today as I have been worrying about my 2 teenage grandkids who hate high school. I feel so sad that they can’t wait to stop going to school and I think of all of the possible opportunities for adventures that they are ignoring because they are so unhappy with school. I hope they can find that one connection with a teacher or classmate that will bring them some joy and open their eyes and minds to the possibilities waiting for them.
What terrific experiences to come out of high school, Kat! School is such a . . . bad place . . . for so many kids (and that’s before considering the threat of violence that hangs over everything now). It makes such a difference when kids can get some positive connections (even if only one). Good teachers can make such an impact. Thanks for sharing your exhibit — and your stories.
So interesting how your “political-ness” was nurtured in high school. I’m one who really enjoyed school. No, I did not like all of my teachers or all of my classes, but I loved learning and having new opportunities. I think each and every one of us went through trying times (especially in HS with hormones flowing, etc.), but overall I have to say my experience was very good.
I loved reading your thoughts about school. I’m afraid a teacher like Mr. Berghorst might not have fared well at my small-minded high school. Encouraging students to read The New Yorker and the NYT would have been unheard of, but I’m glad you encountered a teacher that broadened your mind and horizons. And an active Democrat from your junior year! Thanks for sharing your wonderful exhibit and lessons learned.
I liked school over all. I am thankful for the teachers in my past and in my children’s lives who made a difference and made school fun and inspiring. I enjoyed reading about your inspirational teachers!
I have a lot of memories of school that are painful or stressful, but in almost all cases, the really good memories involve great teachers. I have been so lucky to have kept in touch with some of them, and my daughter even got to have some of them when she started at the school! I wish our society as a whole valued teachers and the profession more.
There was a lot of unrest when I was in high school and teachers like Mr. Berghorst helped those of us who were overwhelmed by the walk outs, marches, bomb threats, and riots. Those teachers helped us to focus on our studies and the good things that were going on.
Our class celebrated our 50th reunion this year and we had a lot of fun sharing memories of the good times via a facebook group. About 100 (out of 400) made it back for the reunion.
I am so glad you had some good teachers who made a lasting impact on your life, Kat.