I’ve discovered in recent years that I am a nerd. I like school. I like books. I like learning. I have an incredible curiosity. I once said I was a bit like Johnny Five from the movie Short Circuit – need input, need input.
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I don’t remember being driven for grades or learning when I was child. I was okay in school; didn’t win any honors though. In High School, I was told I wouldn’t make good material for college. In college they suggested I go to beauty school because I was creative. I have cut my husband’s hair for the last 25 years or more, so maybe they were right about that.
My worst teacher was a Miss O’Rourke at PS 105 in Brooklyn. She was mean. She was the personification of mean. Her goal was to make every child in her 6th grade class cry in front of the class at least once. She succeeded. She told us we were stupid. She told us we thought we were smart but we weren’t. She never touched us physically, but her “tongue lashings” were brutal. I think I still have some scars from my lashings.
The two best teachers I had were in Sunday School. Both were untrained teachers as far as academics. Both were young. One was single. One married with children for whom I babysat.
Fran was from the south. I don’t know how she ever ended up in Brooklyn, but there she was, young, single, attractive. She had a bit of a southern accent as I recall. We didn’t have Sunday School in the summer and when spring would be in full bloom, the Sunday School class was usually empty. Most of the families had summer places in Long Island. We didn’t. All my life, Sunday after Sunday I would be alone in Sunday School class as my peers went to the Island for sun and fun. Most of the teachers would combine their class with someone else if there was only one person.
I don’t know why she did differently. It was both awkward and wonderful. Fran would sit next to me on the pew – we didn’t have separate rooms for Sunday School we simply spread out over the sanctuary. She taught only me, just me alone on that pew. What I remember most about Fran was her devotion to one child, me. She also made us memorize New Testament passages to tell people about salvation. To this day, most of the passages I have memorized in the NT are because of her.
The other one, the married one, was my Sunday School teacher when I was in the 6th grade. The same year I had Miss O’Rourke. Helen was evidently on some sort of deeper spiritual quest. She did odd things like go to Full Gospel Businessmen’s Breakfasts. She was neither a businessperson nor a man. She was just hungry for more of God. She really wasn’t full gospel either, she had been Lutheran.
Her zeal was contagious. She took a couple of 6th grade girls with her on the subway to a Full Gospel Businessmen’s breakfast. I think back now and I think – how strange? Something happened at the meeting. She led me into a fuller expression of the Holy Spirit for the first time.
What’s the point?
A walk down memory lane with Joyce?
That’s nice for me, and maybe interesting for you but what’s the point?
The point is that we are all teachers. We all impact someone else. We all have the potential to teach someone else something that can change his or her life. I heard someone say a while back that we should all begin to look at our spheres – you know those circles we travel in, the people we know… for the purpose of teaching or mentoring.
What do you do well that you can teach someone else?
What do you have to offer that can change a child’s life? or an adults?
or an older person? we are never too old to learn!
Someone taught you -- Who can you teach about Jesus?