Ever since Maria happened upon my blog a few days ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about my two favorite teachers in grade school. The reason for that is one of my teachers was Randall Toth. (I checked with Maria, and they are not related.) I will talk about Mr. Toth in a little bit, but first I wanted to mention Beverly Frye. She was my fifth grade teacher at Raster Elementary in Chicago, Ill. I remember Miss Frye most of all as being an encourager and a complimenter. When she praised my work, I felt 10 feet off the ground. She is really the one who first inspired me to write. I remember we had an assignment to write a make believe story, and I wrote a story about a pair of socks that talked to each other while they were spinning around in the dryer. Miss Frye told me I had a great imagination. The assignment I remember most of all was writing my autobiography. I still recall the excitement as I wrote and cut and pasted pictures to go along with my writings. Miss Frye liked what I did and asked me if I would share it with the class. I was very shy and shook my head “no”. Miss Frye then tried a different approach. She asked me if I would just stand up front with her and hold the autobiography while she turned the pages and talked about it. That, I could do. As long as I didn’t have to speak in front of my class, I was fine. I stood there as she turned the pages and informed the class of various things that I had written. Suddenly, she came to a page that I had forgotten I wrote. It was entitled, “Boys That I Like”. I had cut out pictures of different boys at school that I liked, and some of them were in my class. Without thinking, I slapped my hand across that page. I think I startled Miss Frye for a moment. She looked down at the page and said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” In my mind, she was a great teacher, because she encouraged me and helped me to think creatively.
In 8th grade, I had Mr. Toth for American History. He was a teacher that I really respected and feared. Mr. Toth was a no nonsense teacher, and you wouldn’t even dare try to misbehave or get away with anything in his class. I studied hard for his tests and made good grades. I remember one particular time, I didn’t study as much as I usually did for his test. When I got my test back the next day, on the top of it, Mr. Toth had written, “84 B Careful!” It was the first time I had gotten less than an A on one of his tests. The time rolled around again for another test. I’m not sure why, but I hardly studied at all for this next test. I think subconsciously, I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t do well on a test. When I got my test back the next day, I saw in bold, black letters, ” 76 C See Me!” “Oh no!” I thought. Later that day, I reluctantly approached Mr. Toth’s desk. He didn’t look as angry as I thought he would, but I saw something in his eyes that almost looked like compassion. “What happened?” he asked, “Didn’t you study for the test?” I confessed that I didn’t study much although I couldn’t offer any explanation as to why. He told me he knew that I was capable of doing better and asked me if I would study for the next test. I assured him that I would, and I did. That little incident showed me that Mr. Toth cared about how I did in school, and if he cared, well then, I wanted to do well. I’m thankful that I did have some very good teachers in grade school and high school, but these two stand out the most and probably made the biggest impression on me. Do any of you have a favorite teacher or opinions on what makes a good teacher? I’m all ears.