Students of Saint Mary's Hall

As a teacher, many images come to mind when I think of things that may “define” me. You can probably think of them, too. Meetings, emails, grading papers, ink all over my hand, students, brown bag lunches, the copy machine, etc.

When I think of my favorite teachers, I have glimpses of the way Mrs. Bonneville did whatever she wanted (wore fairy wings, dark eyeliner, was a hunchback) and didn’t care if we made fun of her, she was secure in herself. Or how Mrs. Lopez’s earlobes hung to her shoulders, because she always wore fancy earrings, even if she was just teaching for fashion-backward junior highers. The smell of smoke that clung to Mrs. Farrar and her husky voice as she tried to teach us math…how she lent me her coat when I was cold.

I think of the spittle of Mr. Hagar when he foamed at the mouth for “Hamlet.” I think of Mrs. Butler’s squishly chubby feet you never saw because she never stood up from her desk. I picture Mrs. O’Connell with her chair, Kathy (drama) with her clipboard and laugh, Mr. Ehkdahl with his coffee cup and his cackle when he rubbed his hands together. I think of Mr. Kropf and his endless supply of documentaries and newsletters and magazines; His passion for us to know and to care. I remember Mrs. Saldivar, who must have spent hours everyday taping soap operas for us in Spanish. We loved/hated them, but learned so much from them.

I remember a Spanish professor I had three times in college, who I only knew as “abuela,” and I imagine her broken English and the drops of sweat from her forehead falling onto the projector and splattering her notes. She cried the last day of class and canceled our final because “les quiero tanto y no quiero que sufren!” (“I love you so much and don’t want you to suffer!”)

I look at my life as a teacher, and I can’t help but look at the teachers who made me the student that I was; saw my desire to do well and learn and knew and encouraged me. I never thought I’d be a teacher, but I also can’t picture myself doing anything else.


When I think of “the little things” that make my life now, I think of those aforementioned images we all associate with teachers. But my little things…

  • are the students who always say “hi” to me, every time they see me. little munchkin voices.
  • the tiny “girl crushes” my sixth graders have on me, where they want to clean desks, wipe my boards, and make me cards every week about how “pretty and smart” I am.
  • when students who normally never do their homework walk proudly into my classroom and announce “I did it!”
  • the 8th grade boys I’ve taught for three years that are now taller than me, holding out hands for high-fives in the hallways.
  • when students get so excited to write on the whiteboard, or read aloud, or pray before a test (christian school!), or be sent to the office on an adventure to turn in the attendance.
  • when a mom bakes treats and leaves them in the lounge.
  • when someone makes ice cubes in the freezer and I can have iced coffee.
  • when students take responsibility for their work instead of their parents trying to solve their problems.
  • free soda.
  • getting through a whole day without anyone telling me I look tired.
  • crossing off everything on my daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/trimesterly/annually to-do lists.
  • new dry erase markers.
  • new post-its.

In the same vein, it’s all the little “bad” things that totally add up and ruin a day, haha. But that list wouldn’t be quite so warm and fuzzy, now, would it? :)