From Our Readers: Love Letters to Maine Teachers
For our January/February issue, we asked readers to write a letter to a teacher who made a difference in their life.
To Linda Laskey, Poland Community School: Second grade was when a lot of things happened for me: it was the year the kids started to make me a joke, it was the year that I started wearing glasses (not related but certainly not not related), it was also when I met my childhood best friend, and, most important, it was the year I was granted the gift of my favorite teacher, Mrs. Laskey.
She was warm, welcoming, and supportive of who I was (an awkward bookworm). To this day, I’ve never forgotten the feeling of her classroom and the magic she wielded there. She became the yardstick by which I have measured all my teachers and, now, my children’s teachers.
I saw her many years ago at a wedding. She, though no longer teaching, still had that glow about her, and in sharing her memories of that time it became evermore evident how important and life-changing the brick she laid became in building the foundation of the person I have since grown into.
—Jessie Parker, Sammamish, WA
To Mrs. Michele Metzler, Hampden Academy: I walked into your history class at Hampden Academy and gained not only an engaging and informative education but a life coach. You care for every one of your students, and not just about their grades, but about their well-being. You spent countless after-contracted hours sitting with me after school, offering advice, support, or even just a listening ear. This kept through my college days, and you celebrated my college graduation with me, continuing to be a nonstop pillar to lean on and learn from.
Although you are no longer my teacher, and I am now a teacher myself, I continue to learn from you. You have gone to extreme measures for your students, traveling to Cape Town to earn your National Geographic Educator Certiﬁcation to help give students in Maine a more globalized perspective and always ﬁghting for a diverse and inclusive education. Any student of yours should be considered lucky—I know I am. You made me grasp the true concept of the power of impact a teacher has, and I’m a much better person and educator for having you as a teacher. Thank you for always going above and beyond what is asked. You make a difference, and my life is so much better because of the difference you made in mine.
—Laura Sargent, Boston, MA
To Mrs. Pratt, Southport Central School: Had to be you, with the sensible shoes—white, orthopedic, the kind worn by nurses—and your sensible hair, forever pinned in that 1940s victory roll; you, who taught penmanship and arithmetic and phonics to the thirteen of us in grades three through ﬁve, crammed in the back room of the tiny island schoolhouse, air thick with the scent of paste and mimeo-graph ink; you, who gave us music lessons in the basement alcove, fingers perched above the yellowed piano keys as we readied our red-and-white flutophones for the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”; you, who put on book fairs each fall and supervised us skating on the school pond at recess; you, who swapped blue-berry pie recipes and gossip with my mother at the lunch counter/bowling alley you and your husband, Gus, ran each summer for half a century; you, who survived a horrific accident involving a semi-truck and black ice; you, who unfurled the map that seemed to nine-year-old me the actual size of the world, drawn long before walls and borders and ideologies fell; you, whose chalkboard sentence-diagramming lessons inspired my passion for language and grammar and words; you, who helped my mother overcome fear of flying to attend my college graduation, two decades and three schools in the making.
It was you who planted the seed that rooted me in writing. And you, who have been my muse all along, Mrs. Pratt. It all comes back to you. —Amie McGraham, Scottsdale, AZ
To Mort Soule, Cape Elizabeth High School (also known as “Animus Vir,” the soul man): I signed up for Latin my junior year because I thought it would help me on the SAT and be an easy A. Although I don’t remember much Latin, I do remember that the word “panacea” was on the test, and I got that question right, thanks to you. Despite forgetting most of the Latin you taught me, I remember more from your class than any other in all my years of education. I can still see you in your Mudville Mort baseball uniform and hear you yell “Strike two!” loud enough for the whole school to hear when performing “Casey at the Bat.”
To say that you are an animated storyteller would be an understatement. I think that was what I loved most about you: your stories. Any Latin student could recall the classic ones you told over and over again. I even signed up for Latin 2 my senior year just to spend 45 minutes laughing at your stories in your classroom. I don’t know many teachers who could get a senior to come into school an hour early twice a week for an unrequired class, but you did it. Although I might not have learned much Latin in the long run, I learned how to tell a damn good story.
—Anna Doherty, Boston, MA