How many of you remember those teachers, or professors, that you would consider to be legendary? The ones who are on your mind for years after you have been in their class. They may not remember you, but you sure remember them. Good and bad, here is my list.
Mrs. Wade — My first grade teacher. I think this woman was my first love. I was a year younger than my classmates, but she never treated me any differently. She had hair the color of autumn leaves, perfect for the beginning of the school year, and was just plump enough to be cute and cuddly. She always greeted us with a smile and a hug, two things I wasn’t so used to seeing on a daily basis. And she always spoke with excitement and enthusiasm, no matter what we were studying.
Mrs. Stone — My second grade teacher. Talk about a wake-up call. She was by far the meanest woman I had ever met, at least at that point. I’m not sure how old she was, but to a six-year-old, gray hair = pretty darn old. She barely smiled, often spoke with a hateful, bitter tone, and just flat out did not like hyper little boys. I can’t hardly remember one single lesson she taught us, but I do remember being told to “Sit down” and “shut up” a few times. I had a weak stomach in second grade and I remember she was reading us a story. I suddenly felt as if I were going to vomit. I begged and pleaded to go to the restroom, or even the trash can, without luck. So, after a few minutes of no longer being able to wait, I walked to the front of the room, turned to Mrs. Stone, and vomited on her shoes. Believe it or not, she didn’t even flinch. She stared at her feet, stared at me, mumbled a bitter-sounding, “Well…” and pointed to the door. I sat in the back of the room near the bathroom for the rest of the year.
Mr. Copley — My fourth grade teacher and the first teacher who became a close friend as I grew up. He was funny, taught class in an interactive and engaging way, and I could really tell he cared about us. He was a portly gentleman with a full beard and an infectious smile. Once, while working on an assignment, I could not settle down. He called me to his desk, wrapped his arms around me tightly, and asked, “Do you know what I’m doing? I’m squeezing the meanness out of you. Is it working?” I smiled and mumbled, “Nope.” We laughed together and when I returned to my seat, I was settled (at least until the next day). Mr. Copley was also the first teacher to inspire me to write. A few years ago, Mr. Copley died in a motorcycle accident. I found out about it well after it happened, so I did not get to say goodbye. Thank you, Mr. Copley, for being the first teacher I could also call “friend”.
Mrs. Priddy — My elementary school phys ed teacher. Though I’ve never been athletic, I have always been fond of exercise if it were fun and active. Mrs. Priddy was the most dynamic phys ed teacher I have ever had, back when phys ed was fun and it was okay to jump around and do your own thing, to make physical activity like a game rather than a sport. In middle school, all we did was play a lot of basketball and do some warm-ups before. In Mrs. Priddy’s class, we jumped through hoops, tossed giant balls back and forth, pretended to me riding horses, spun around in circles, flapped our arms like giant birds, all for the sake of physical activity. I see her often today and I am sure she is proud of me and my unique physical abilities. Thank you, Mrs. Priddy.
Mrs. Racer — My ninth grade English teacher. After two years of misery in junior high, I finally found a teacher I could really enjoy. She incited my love for literature and writing and made me into a devoted fan of Stephen King. She was one of the boldest, most out-of-the-box teachers I have ever known and became one of my good friends after I graduated. I remember she would close her door and read forbidden Stephen King stories to us because they were good literature. She was even brave enough to read most of The Stand to us. I was a depressing mess in ninth grade, often wishing my life could end soon and quickly, and she filled me with confidence every day by giving me a safe place where I knew I could express myself without fear of judgment or humiliation. I came to her room often, crying about whatever was bothering me that day, and she would encourage me to hold strong, chin up. And, of course, my struggles were encouraged to be the topic of my writing. She is my greatest inspiration as a teacher and I strive to be as inspiring to my students as she was to me.
Mr. Miller — My high school Biology teacher. Mr. Miller was a hard-edged, strict science teacher who taught with a slight, old-fashioned, southern African-American accent, in which he said words like “particularily”. He ate grapes on a daily basis because he believed the made you smarter, and took science and learning very seriously. he had a reputation for being the strictest and most difficult teacher in the school. The most exciting aspect of his class, though, was that students had to do 4 dissections. I loved science (still do) and was looking forward to the chance to cut open some animals. Our first dissection was a crayfish. At the beginning of class, trays were on every desk with a crayfish already lying on top, with various dissecting tools next to the tray. Mr. Miller handed out a sheet with squares, and each square was labeled. Our goal was to remove the parts, place them on the correct square, and he would come around with a clipboard and give us a grade. All grades would be posted on the wall with student ID #s the next day. “Be sure to put youh name on youh papuhs,” he said, as we enthusiastically began to cut open the crayfish. I had studied the crayfish’s anatomy extensively and I was ready for this. As I worked, Mr. Miller wandered from desk to desk, mumbling things like, “Good, good,” as he nodded, or he shook his head, frowned, and mumbled, “Mmm, mmm, mmm.” I knew I was going to get a nod and a “good, good.” As he finally reached my desk, he glanced at it briefly, raised his eyebrows, and said, “Huh.” Huh? The next day, grades were posted: 0 out of 200. How? What did I do wrong. I respectfully approached Mr. Miller at the end of class. “Did I get every one wrong or something?” He grinned. “Nope, you actually got them all right. But ye didn’t put youh name on youh papuh.” I was crushed, but I learned a valuable lesson. I passed his class with a “B”, the highest in my class.
Dr. Stuart McGehee — The greatest college history professor I have ever known. Dr. McGehee is one of the most loved and talked about professors at West Virginia State University. With an encyclopedic knowledge of history and a wit unmatched by any other history professor, McGehee’s class is guaranteed to get students back into history again. His primary form of teaching is lecture, but his contagious enthusiasm and excellent speaking skills make it easy to forget you have sat through an hour lecture on the Louisiana Purchase. But don’t let his teaching fool you. McGehee is also a very serious scholar who expects the same from his students. Tardiness is inexcusable. Attendance is mandatory. And his tests? Mostly short answer and essay questions. But my love for history was rekindled during Dr. McGehee’s class.
Dr. Juris Lidaka — By far the funniest and most intelligent professor I have ever had, Dr. Lidaka is a true scholar, with thick-lens glasses and a shiny bald head. He spends his weekends in a library, translating ancient languages and studying various topics related to English history and linguistics. I had never even heard the word “linguist” before I met Dr. Lidaka. I took three classes from Dr. Lidaka and they all began the same. He warned us about his exams, stating that no one would receive an “A” and most of us would not even pass. Then, he proceeded to point out his vision problem, a lazy eye that could be distracting if you were not careful. “Sometimes, you’ll think I’m looking at you, but I’m actually looking over there. And sometimes, you’ll think I’m looking over there, but I am in fact looking at you.” He had the most atrocious hand writing I have seen from any professor, and he addressed this, as well. “If you ask me to translate my handwriting, I will begin to speak to you in an obscure foreign language of my choice, because while my handwriting is messy, it is written in English.” This is also the same professor who, during a discussion about the Venerable Beade, warned us not to refer to him as “Venereal Disease”. While Lidaka’s tests were really difficult and required time in the library, his classes really motivated us to be scholars ourselves.
So that’s it. I’m sorry it’s such a long list. I actually have about three more professors I could write about. There’s just something quirky and eccentric about a the best college professors that makes them so legendary. Thanks for bearing with me.