FOULDS: A salute to teachers and all they bring — even the welts

Is there another profession in which the talent and passion of those employed can have such a significant and lasting impact shaping lives?

It was while turned around in my desk, chatting with the guy behind me, that the soft, tri-striped eraser with the rock-hard back side arced through the classroom air, split two rows of desks, zoomed up the aisle and landed with a thud right behind my ear.

That eraser left the hand of one of the best teachers I have ever had, Mr. Gladman, and I can still feel that Grade 6 welt today.

It’s a feeling associated with the very best of my school days.

Grade 6 was a year of firsts —first crushes, first overnight field trips, first rollerskating trips and first teacher who made a serious impression on students.

Mr. Gladman wasn’t much older than us (at least he didn’t seem that much older) and was, therefore, seen as an almost contemporary in the teaching fraternity that had, until Grade 6, us looking at teachers as though they were all standing on the very cliff of retirement.

Not Mr. Gladman, or “Bags,” as we called him.

He was cool. He would teach in very different ways. He knew how to help you find your passion among the subjects.

He would spend all lunch hour in the classroom, debating sports with the students. He would stay long after the final bell, talking about life or playing floor hockey with us until the janitors kicked us out of the gym.

And, yes, he would deftly utilize chalkboard erasers, or dense textbooks, or taped-up wads of paper as aerial weapons when the boys among us insisted on not listening during a lesson.

Back then, we accepted the brief pain from a Gladman missile as the price to pay for goofing off; today, such acts would likely result in court hearings — reason No. 546 why things were so much better then than now . . .

This week marks the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

For kids, summer is done and it’s time to get those brains working again.

For parents, it can be time to remember the Mr. Gladmans of our youth, those special teachers whose remarkable gift in the classroom remains fresh in our minds decades after the fact.

Is there another profession in which the talent and passion of those employed can have such a significant and lasting impact shaping lives?

So, in honour of this, the real start to the year, a salute to the teachers who stay with me yet:

• To Ms. Wood, my Grade 1 teacher, my first-ever teacher, who introduced a boy of six to his first rapid heartbeat. Ms. Wood, you see, had only recently been crowned Miss Abbotsford.

• To Mrs. Martens, my Grade 4 teacher who perfected the schoolmarm look and who shared my love for zany BCTV weatherman Norm Grohman, often interrupting a math lesson to share laughs about the previous night’s News Hour antics of Crazy Norm.

• To Mr. Anderson, my Grade 7 teacher who may have been almost as hockey-crazy as us boys and who had a heart of gold. It was he who palmed the slip of paper bearing the name of the girl with whom I was madly in love, holding the piece of paper to the end as students pulled names for Christmas gifts — and dropping it into the empty hat when I was to pick the final name.

• To Mr. Stewart, the legendary librarian/gym teacher/basketball coach of the Fraser Valley who would constantly bring out newspapers for my Grade 8 mind to read and read and read.

• To Mr. Toews, a high school teacher who could barely smile and rarely laugh, but whose strict teaching style was so good that, today, 27 years later, I still know all the details of Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion courtesy of an inventive system of organizing the issues involved (language, religion, racism, etc.) into a neat little poem.

• To Mr. Ratzlaff, whose unbridled passion for history was as addictive as crack, whose teaching style was so energetic one was exhausted when the bell rang. On. Jan. 28, 1986, on the morning the space shuttle Challenger exploded, history was my first class and Mr. Ratzlaff suspended the usual lesson and sat at the edge of his desk, just talking with his students about the tragedy.

I think he did that all day.

To these teachers and all others whose marks on this world — via lesson plans and airborne projectiles — live on in the minds and bodies of kids of all ages, welcome to a new school year.

Christopher Foulds is editor of Kamloops This Week. His email address is here. His blogs can be found here and here. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Civilian oversight of Surrey police deemed ‘fundamental’

Surrey Police Board executive director says inaugural meeting showcased passion, focus

SPCA partners with Crime Stoppers

Many call in to the SPCA, but want to remain anonymous: Eccles

White Rock funds cultural activities moved online by COVID-19

Museum, community orchestra receive production grants

Surrey council sets new rules for Good Citizen of the Year award

Candidates have more hurdles to jump before getting nominated for the prestigious local title

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Driver maces pedestrian after hit and run in Langley City

Police were on the scene at Michaud Crescent Wednesday morning

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Most Read