Currently, I am reading John Maxwell’s book, The 360 Leader. It is an enjoyable read. The main thesis of the book encourages readers to lead regardless of their current position. Whether you are in the highest position of your field or the lowest, you can lead from right where you are at. All the chapters have provided great learning material for leadership, but I have specifically enjoyed the chapters listing the principles of “Leading Down.” I just finished reading the chapter on “See Everyone as a 10.” After reading that chapter, I thought about all the leaders in my life who saw me as a 10 even when I wasn’t functioning at that level.
Thankfully, I have learned from some of the best leaders…TEACHERS. Throughout my years of education, I had the honor of learning from great men and women in their field of study. It wasn’t just their great knowledge of the subject material or their outstanding teaching technique that set them a part from others, but rather, a belief in me.
I had teachers who saw me as a 10 and inspired me to learn and to grow. Because they believed that I was a 10, (even though I may not have functioned at that level at that time) they got my best effort, they were approachable, they wanted the best for me, and I learned the most from them.
Selah~Day 250 is a tribute of thanks to them!
The 27 Teachers who deserve Thanks (They are in no order of importance):
1. Mrs. Trapp. She was my first grade teacher. My family had just relocated to Hugo, Ok from Tulsa that year. I entered Eugene Elementary school in the middle of the year and remember the fear when all those 6-year-old eyes stared back at me. But, Mrs. Trapp made me feel welcomed and a special part of that 1st grade class.
2. Mrs. Dark. She was my 3rd grade teacher and the first person in my life whom I remember debating. It was the year of a presidential election. Michael Dukakis vs. George Bush. Mrs. Dark put me in the Dukakis group. Well, this budding Republican was NOT going to make a campaign poster for the Democratic candidate, Dukakis. Confidently, I went home and told my mom. My mom and I lost the debate. Mrs. Dark felt that it would be good for me to work on a campaign poster for a candidate that I didn’t support. I still don’t get her reasoning, but she definitely created a desire in me for political debate. Thankfully, that 3rd grade spirit still resides on the inside of me.
3. Mrs. Holleman. She was my 5th grade teacher. The 5th grade was the most difficult year of my educational career. Due to some mean kids, I was terrified to go to school on a daily basis. I often called my parents, faking a tummy ache, so they would have to come and check me out of school. Mrs. Holleman saw through all of that though. She spent many hours talking to me and encouraging me. She made me feel very safe and secure. Because of her, I made it through the 5th grade and even won an award. Mrs. Holleman gave awards to kids in her class each year. That year, she gave me an outstanding student award. She has no idea what that award did for me and my self-esteem.
4. Coach Tommy Parker. He was my middle school tennis coach and my 8th grade Civics teacher. He was a great teacher and truly fueled my love for History and government. In that class, I learned all the counties in Oklahoma (Don’t know them now) and the Bill of Rights Rap! He nicknamed me Cairo too. I have no idea why that name…but, it was special to me and I am so thankful for the role of leadership he played in my life.
5. Mrs. Mary Taylor. She taught my 8th grade math class. It was the only math class that I ever remember liking. She had the sweetest smile and the warmest heart. I am so glad that I had the chance to experience math through her eyes and her passion. She passed away too soon a few years back. To this day, when I think of her, I see her smile.
6. Jeanie Bray. She was my 9th grade Biology teacher. Like math, Biology was not my favorite subject. But, Mrs. Bray was a tiny fireball of energy and detail. My 9th grade year was a transition year too. We relocated from Hugo, Ok to Broken Bow, Ok. I started BBHS in the 2nd 9 weeks and knew NO ONE. Mrs. Bray’s 4th hour Biology class would be the class that allowed me the time to foster new friendships and enjoy a subject that I would usually dislike. I dissected my first animal in Mrs. Bray’s class too.
7. Susan Storey. She taught English and Journalism and had a smile that was contagious. Her love for literature and journalism was clear in her excitement for teaching. I took both of her classes. She taught me how to communicate events in an exciting way. I learned to capture film, edit clips, and broadcast news. I loved her classes. They were full of energy and hands-on learning.
8. Mrs. Jane Harding. She walked the aisles of our desks with such poise and elegance. Mrs. Harding was a tough English teacher. She challenged every piece of my work and made me a better writer. She brought out the best in me. Mrs. Harding always seemed to be a private person and not allow her students to get super close. However, on one particular day, I got to experience a different side of Mrs. Harding… a softer side. Meaning no ill intent, Mrs. Harding called me out in class and made a comment that some would think embarrassing. I am sure I blushed and within seconds, Mrs. Harding called me out into the hallway. She apologized repeatedly and assured me that she meant no harm and was so sorry for calling me out in that way. Even though I thought little of the entire situation, I appreciated her care for my feelings and her willingness to ask for forgiveness. It was in that moment that I realized she cared as much for me as she did for the words I wrote in her class.
9. Mr. Bruce King. Sitting at his desk for most of the class, Mr. King’s knowledge of literary works filled the room. I read Hamlet for the first time in Mr. King’s class. He appreciated my work and encouraged me in my writing.
10. Mrs. Wanda Wood. She loved History and Government as much as I did. I sat front and center in Mrs. Wood’s class. She gave us opportunities to debate, share opinions, and make Government come alive in our class. She also believed in me and encouraged me to make a difference in our US Government. After that class, I went forward and work for a few campaigns, chaired the College Republicans, and spent a summer interning for Congress in D.C. Those experiences changed my life…and, I chose to pursue something different from politics. 🙂
11. Coach Ron Murphree. He was a college basketball coach who taught Civil War History. He made the Civil War time period come alive in our class. I was amazed at his knowledge of the Civil War. Coaches usually get a bad wrap for their teaching abilities. But, Coach Murphree redeemed them all. He was awesome and I loved hearing him teach.
12. Sharbee Bruton. Sharbee was my high school friend and college roommate. Sharbee and I were both bridesmaids in each others weddings. Sharbee’s very presence can make anyone smile. She is also a grammar genius. I love English, but mostly because I love literature. The grammar portion was never my favorite. But, Sharbee was amazing. With every big paper I wrote, I sat down with Sharbee and went through the paper sentence by sentence, learning from her about sentence structure, introductory phrases, etc…She was so patient with me and taught me so much!
13. Mrs. Carol Jackson. She taught high school chemistry and was pregnant for a majority of the year I had her class. I made Mrs. Jackson a book filled with great name ideas for her baby boy. She didn’t choose any of my suggestions. But, she kept the book as a keepsake. She was a fun teacher and actually made Chemistry enjoyable.
14. Mrs. Ruth Ann Smith. She was my High school librarian. I served as Mrs. Smith’s library assistant my Senior year. She was a fiery red-head and I loved working with her. She gave me a great appreciation for organization and research. Even after high school, Mrs. Smith loved to stay involved with the happenings of my life. She passed away a few years back. Every time I hear the word “librarian,” I think of her.
15. Paula Reif. She is a beautiful woman. She always wore the brightest red lipstick and looked so together. Not only did I take some literature courses from her, but I also took improv and had a blast. She believed in me as a theater student and even cast me in a leading role in the piece, A King’s Stag, as a Freshman college student. To this day, I don’t get the point of that play, but it was a fun memory!
16. My students. They taught me that I don’t have it “all knowed up.” I have learned from them that everyone has the potential to learn and it is up to me as their teacher to find the key that opens up their mind to a world of possibilities when educated.
17. Mr. Danny Wann. He actually made Zoology an enjoyable class. I don’t really find the anatomy or study of animals interesting or fun, but I do remember laughing all the time in Mr. Wann’s class. Mr. Wann also tried to play match maker in my life. He thought I would be a perfect match for a guy he knew at another college. Even though the match DID NOT work out, I enjoyed Mr. Wann’s class.
18. Mr. Knox. He loved my passion for politics and loved even more my willingness to debate with him. He was a die-hard Democrat and I was a stubborn Republican. We had great debates and respected each others opinions and had fun sharing our viewpoints. Mr. Knox was very sick while I was in his class. But, he was present everyday and gave teaching his all. He received a heart transplant a couple of years after I had his class. Unfortunately, he passed away soon after.
19. Bill Day. He had a quick wit and a dry sense of humor. He made me laugh. Both Mr. Day and Mrs. Dinsmore took a chance on me and cast me in the roll of Meg Brockie in Brigadoon. I know that they were concerned with my ability to carry the two solo songs, but they took a chance and believed in me. Even though he is “retired,” he still spends his days investing in the lives of young people.
20. Dana Dinsmore. She is sweeter than honey and has an energetic, magnetic personality. She extended an invitation to me to be a part of the Horizon Show Choir at CASC. She knew that I couldn’t sing at all. But, she said that I could bring great theatrics to the team. She believed in me and gave me an awesome opportunity to continue to use my energies on the stage!
21. Claudia Swisher. She is a brilliant High School English teacher at Norman North High School. She welcomed me into her classroom as a student teacher. She gave me a hands on learning experience and invested volumes of information and time into my life during those months. She not only cared about kids while they were in her class, but outside as well. While working with her, I went to many funerals of past student’s family members, I stayed after school while she counseled with students, and spent most plan periods and lunch breaks with her while she met with groups of students. Her room was a safe haven for all and a most popular place.
22. Professor Diana Holt-Reynolds. She was born with just one arm, but never let her handicap slow her down. One day, I met Professor Holt-Reynolds in the parking lot on OU’s campus. We were both heading to class and I decided to walk with her. She walked very slow and eventually told me to go ahead. She said, “Kara, don’t feel the need to wait on me. You go ahead. I will be there soon.” Professor Reynolds didn’t survive the semester. We later discovered that she had advance stage cancer in her spine. Wow…she taught every day in severe pain and never complained or let her students know about her situation. She literally taught up until that last couple of weeks of her life.
23. Professor Fritz. I only took one class with Professor Fritz while at OSU. He taught weird literature too. Well, it was weird to me. But, he had a great passion for Asian works and taught them well. The class I took with Professor Fritz was rather large, but he seemed to have a special concern for each one of us. Towards the end of the Spring semester, I was involved in a car accident that blackened my eye. My eye was still swollen and black when I returned to school after the weekend accident. Professor Fritz asked me to meet with him after class. He was so concerned about me. He told me that I could confide in him if I was in any trouble and that he would get me help. I explained to him what had happened. There is something really special about a person expressing their care and concern for you.
24. Professor Edward Jones. He loved Shakespeare. He was a challenge. He rarely gave A’s in his class and he let everyone know it. I loved his teaching style and his ability to challenge you to think outside the box and expand the interpretations possible in literary works. I worked so hard in his class and still earned a B!!!! Can you believe it? I loved it though.
25. Professor Linda Leavell. She was a brilliant mind. Within 5 minutes of my first class with her, I knew that she would be one of my favorites. I tried to take as many literature classes that she taught. She also wrote one of my 3 recommendation letters for law school. Her excitement to write the letter for me was an encouragement.
26. Shirley Harrod Yandell. She is a creative mind with passion and Zeal for life! I enjoyed my time with her. I couldn’t wait to sit in her class and learn from her bright mind. I had a blast with Ms. Harrod outside of the classroom too. I will never forget our times preparing for our State winning One Act play. Who would have thought to put actors inside trash cans…Her wild, curly hair, contagious laugh, and spunky attitude left a wonderful impression on me. She makes you want to be a better student and a better person.
27. Stephen Smallwood. To this day, he is my favorite Democrat. He inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis and never settle for less than my absolute best. Mr. Smallwood could take an ordinary kid and turn them into an extraordinary, larger than life winner! He saw potential in every student that passed through his classroom door. Mr. Smallwood makes one believe that dreams really do come true!