Thursday, September 27, 2007

4 and 5 x365: The Teachers

I was away for a few days, so I am combining two of my x365 posts. I decided to do the two teachers who influenced me the most in elementary school - one for the positive and one for the negative.

#4: Mrs. Gellner

Learning was actually enjoyable in Mrs. G's class. Her excitement about learning and gaining knowledge was infectious. Laughing uproariously was not unheard of. She was strict - more so than any teacher prior to Grade 5 had been. But she loved to teach, she loved her students and she loved to learn. She taught us to be excited about things - history and current events, movies and documentaries.

Her preference was "Social Studies" and for some reason, though she taught all subjects, that is the only one I remember. I learned about the civil war and American history - at one time I could tell you every battle and every General. I could name you every state, capital and knew some inane fact about each. I learned about the Romanov family and dreamt of being a Russian royal abandoned among the regular people just to save my life.

Mrs. G became a friend of my parents and a part of our lives even when school ended and none of us kids were in her class. And, when I became an adult, she treated me not like a student but like an equal. Twenty years after I was in her class, she still wasn't that old. She made me crave knowledge and made me feel like everything was just within my reach.

#5: Mr. Galloway

Grade 6 was possibly the worst experience in my educational history. While it was nice to get it out of the way early, it has had it's affect on me. Mr. Galloway was the reason for this. In my mind, Mr G hated kids. Why he taught 12 year old children, I have no idea, as he seemed to have a real disdain for them. But again, that might have just been me. He picked his favourites and he picked his victims. God help you, if you were the latter.

In my Grade 6 class, Mr G had two kids he hated. Charlie (the only black boy in my class and one of two - his sibling - in my school) and myself. He may have had more, but we were his favourites to hate. Whatever project we would hand in to him, it was publicly mocked. I recall actually getting a paper back with a 1 out of 50 and the comment "At least you spelled your name right".

In gym class, he taught us how to throw a football. When I threw like a girl (surprise!) I was told that if I could not learn to do it properly I would fail the class and thus fail the grade and thus be in his room next year. I learned to throw it like a boy - correct spiral and arch and all that. I am pretty sure I dreamt about that damn football for most of the year.

At least, I assume I dreamt about something because I walked in my sleep (sleep walked?) from the first week of school up until the week after it was over. My parents knew what was going on but had no idea how to stop it. They helped me through the best they could. They found out years later that kids from my class would go home at the end of the day crying for how he treated me and Charlie. It was good to know someone cared.


  1. Mrs Gellner is the reason I have my history degree. I love her.

    And if you ever see Mr Galloway again, you should tell him that he made that year hell for you. And then step on his balls.

  2. Seriously, I have nightmares about that man, and I wasn't even in his class. He was a total dick.

  3. step on his balls...were they dragging? Maybe that's why he had such a bad attitude...

  4. No, Bron is just that tall.

  5. I've had several teachers like your Mr. Galloway and very few like your Mrs Gellner. I wish that it were the other way around. I was always a willing and eager student and yet somehow, they still managed to crush most of that out of me. (I feel a great sense of loss knowing that.)

  6. Teachers who publicly criticize and humiliate their students have no business teaching.

    I loved stern but caring teachers like Mrs Gellner. Mine was Mr Greenberg.


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