Since we’re back into full-swing fall and the three youngest kids in my household are back to school (and of course, as a GREAT idea for a writing prompt from Brittany Gibbons) I’d like to talk about the two teachers who had the most impact on my life.
When I was in grade school, even though I had two really good friends and few other kinda friends (the ones who hang with you when their other friends are busy) I didn’t have the easiest time. I certainly went through my fair share of bullying and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Enter my Grade 7 and 8 french teacher: Mr. McAnany. I already knew him because my dad was a principal for years and previously Mr. McAnany had worked for him at his school. He was young (for a teacher) and full of energy and enthusiasm. He made french FUN and more than that, he was an ear for me when I needed to talk to someone about the way I was feeling with the bullying that was going on. By the time we hit grade 8, he decided to enter our school in the Sears Drama Festival and we put on a play. I got the lead. It’s single-handedly the reason that I fell in love with theatre and with acting and it was a huge boost to my self esteem. My family was invited to his wedding years later when I was 18 and we both had children within that year. We stayed good friends and our two families stayed in contact for many years after.
My second, most inspirational teacher was Mr. McGinnis. My high school drama teacher. First of all, the man was funny as hell. He would come into class covered in tin foil and sit on the floor. Then he would tell us he was leftovers….all about the method acting, lol. He constantly made us laugh but more than that, he challenged us to be in touch with our feelings and to call upon them when we were working out a scene. Our class, under him, became more like a family than a class. We all bonded and most of us stayed together through three years of drama in high school. He retired two years ago and I had the good fortune of being able to tell him in person just how much he meant to me as a teacher and a mentor. I was also able to give him a copy of one of my very own books as a thank you gift and to see him take it from me, with dare I say, almost tears in his eyes, was something I will never forget. He was the first teacher I had who encouraged me to write. He always complimented my ability to do realistic dialogue and my first ever perfect 100% was on a writing assignment in his class, which my class then later performed.
There is nothing like a teacher who inspires, who drives you, who shows you what you are capable of and then isn’t surprised when you do something amazing, because they always knew you would.
I thank you both, Mr.McAnany and Mr.McGinnis. You inspired me and even now at 39 years old, I continue to be inspired by your gifts as teachers.