Louise submitted her story through the form on the Chalk and Chances website. She shared sweet memories of her teacher, Mr. Alexander. These memories are still clear and detailed, over five decades later.
A passion for learning. Real world connections. The ability to make us feel that our unique talents were important and the encouragement to develop them. That was Harvey Alexander, my fifth grade teacher. This man had an excitement for learning that was contagious and made every day in his class an adventure. With his tousled hair and tie flung over his shoulder (it was the 60's!) he could turn everything into a memorable learning experience that we were eager to dive into.
When there was a huge disagreement about whether the girls or boys had first claim to the preferred kickball field at recess one day, we did not get a lecture or reprimand. Instead, he taught us about our judicial system and then had us use that knowledge to conduct a trial to decide the issue. Even though this process took days, we enthusiastically researched and prepared our cases, called witnesses, and agreed to abide by the jury's decision.
Mr. Alexander also had a passion for literature and sparked our imagination as he exposed us to a variety of classic stories, novels, and poetry. On overcast days, he would turn off the lights to set the mood for Edgar Allan Poe stories on the record player. We shivered as Fortunato was walled up in The Cask of Amontillado and when the murderer’s guilty conscience heard the rhythmic thumping of his victim’s heart in The Tell-Tale Heart. We read the poetry of Robert Frost and then listened to recordings of him reading his own works. We reveled in the linguistic absurdity and wordplay in The Phantom Tollbooth and looked forward to our time in the Lands Beyond as a chapter or two was read aloud each day.
There are pictures of so many wonderful moments in his class indelibly imprinted in my mind’s eye, even all these years later. He taught us to think, to create, to listen, and to learn… And we loved him for it.
Louise’s story made me wonder why we remember some teachers so clearly. Perhaps it is because these teachers created experiences. They fully immersed us, and they went on the journey right alongside us. What experiences stuck with you years (or even decades) after you left a teacher’s classroom? Share in the comments below.
Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-
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