From April 2012 Tips and Tales


Who was my best teacher you ask? Let me think. It could have been Miss Betts who taught us in kindergarten to play nice and share. Or Miss Grennert in 3rd grade who read a chapter of “Little House on the Prairie” each day to an enchanted audience and sparked in me a love of the written word. Perhaps it was Miss Blind in 4th who asked us to write a story about the picture on the calendar in the front of the room, and I undertook the task with pleasure and excitement, unlike most of my classmates.

In high school I hated math until gentle Mr. Broman took the class through the logic of geometry and I saw that numbers were not the enemy. Fiery Miss Barracks taught Latin, giving my vocabulary a life-long lift, and the adored Miss Goodwin gave me a life lesson in rejection when I dropped her Phys-Ed class and opted for study hall. She never spoke to me again.

Miss Kohr married her sweetheart and moved to Korea, leaving me with a longing for romance and adventure. Miss Hackett directed the orchestra and stopped rehearsal one day to comment that she wished I played something that allowed me to talk, laugh, and keep playing, rather than the flute that required attentive lips. That was a lesson in diplomacy!

From college days I most remember the lessons learned about LIFE through experience, not from teachers, per se. We didn’t call it that then, but “Relationships 101a” was perhaps the most important class taken, and we went every day. That kindergarten lesson – play nice and share – proved invaluable here, but didn’t help much when it came to sex and drinking. From a generation that didn’t talk about sex, and from a home that was alcohol free, I had much to learn about both. Some of those lessons had better outcomes than others – but learn them I did.

Life itself is a great teacher, the best, really. How else can you learn about love and commitment, and loss and determination, and joy and disappointment? How else experience loyalty and betrayal, success and failure, passion and ennui, pride and humility?

My unsurpassed candidate for “My Best Teacher” is of course my mother, who always said, “No one gets through life unscathed”, and, “Never, never spoil the story for the sake of the truth.”

Gail Kiracofe