I wasn’t planning to write about my favorite teacher, but on my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/sharonmichaelsauthor/ I posted a Writing Challenge. Write a 200-300 word blog post about your favorite teacher and how this teacher influenced your life as an adult. I figured I’d better take the challenge as well.
I want to share memories of my favorite teacher – Miss Jeannette Pawlowski.
A little background about my first years in school. No one realized I needed glasses until the second grade. Educationally that put me behind the rest of my peers in reading and other academic skills. As you might imagine, my self-confidence and self-esteem suffered. I believed I was not as smart or talented as the rest of my classmates.
Entering third grade I was finally adjusting to wearing glasses. If I remember correctly, I was the only one in my class who wore glasses. Although glasses helped me academically, they did nothing for my self-esteem. You know how children can be – teasing me about being a four eyes.
Now enter Miss Pawlowski. This insightful teacher changed the perception I had of myself and my abilities. She allowed me to begin believing in myself, my intelligence and my talents.
In my eight year old mind Miss Pawlowski was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. She was sophisticated, chic and self-confident. She’d traveled the world and spoke of places I could only dream about. In other words, I wanted to be Miss Pawlowski.
For some reason this awe inspiring teacher took me under her wing. I was the “milk person” for our homeroom and in charge of collecting and counting milk money each morning. I was in charge of handing out text books at the beginning of reading period. You get the story. Miss Pawlowski let me shine in my own special way.
This compassionate teacher tutored me so I could catch up in reading and math. She taught me how to write goals and dream about the future. She nurtured my love of books. She inspired me to go to college and become a teacher. I too wanted to be a teacher who could empower young people and influence them to live productive self-confident lives.
I excelled during third grade. I even started volunteering to read in front of the class. I was gaining confidence in myself as a capable student and worthy person.
As luck would have it, Miss Pawlowski was also my sixth grade teacher. I watched her mannerisms, I listened to her speech patterns and I wanted to copy her fashion choices. While other girls were experimenting with boys and wild fashion trends, I was encouraged to focus on my studies and dress appropriately.
I’m sad to say we moved away from that school district when I started junior high school and I didn’t keep in touch with Miss Pawlowski. Not staying in touch is something I regret to this day. After I received my teaching degree and began teaching, I met another teacher from that elementary school and asked her about Miss Pawlowski. I was sad to find out she’d died of cancer only a couple of years earlier. I never got the opportunity to thank her for being such a positive influence in my life.
Please, let your mentors know how much they’ve inspired you.
This may be a little late, but thank you Jeannette Pawlowski. All these years later I still vividly and fondly remember you and your classroom. Thank you for believing in me when I needed to learn how to believe in myself. I only hope I became half the teacher you were to your students.
As you see my 200-300 word writing challenge somehow turned into 700 words. I started writing and couldn’t seem to stop. I pictured Miss Pawlowski as I wrote and I didn’t want to stop telling the story. Obviously this “favorite” teacher made a long-lasting and profound impact on my adult life.
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