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Thursday, May 5, 2016

'Thanks, Teach. You're the greatest!'

Sunday, August 26, 2012

If you are reading this column...thank a teacher.

I am sitting here at my computer typing away at my keyboard...thanks to a teacher.

I remember the old drill when I started my typing class many years ago in junior high school...f j d k s l a ; f j d k s l a ; f j d k s l a ; The typing teacher at the front of the class repeating that over and over as the class typed away.

Teachers have influenced my life, really, my whole life long. And I want to say, "Thank you!" to the many teachers who taught me what I know, all that I remember, and all that stuff that I have forgotten over the years.

In the congregations of the two churches where I serve as pastor, there are educators galore. We have a head start teacher, a kindergarten teacher, elementary school teachers, a teaching assistant, a high school teacher, a principal, school board members, a school bus driver, retired teachers, and retired school office workers. We also have Sunday school teachers and Bible study teachers that give of their time to train the members of the churches.

Teachers have influenced all of our lives in so many different ways.

"Thanks Teach! You're the greatest!"

One of the first jobs I had as a teenager was to be a teacher's assistant for the local Head Start program in my home town of Grand Forks, N.D.

Many of our students were the children of migrant workers that came north from Texas and Mexico to work on the farms and in the fields there in the Red River Valley.

English was a second language for these children and I know it was a challenge for these little ones to learn to speak a foreign tongue. It was a challenge for me to try to communicate with them as they started to learn my language.

I have never learned Spanish, but it would have come in handy back then. That experience taught me how hard the job of a teacher was.

I began my early childhood education at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. My kindergarten teacher was Helen Tangen. Her husband and my mother were cousins.

Mrs. Tangen came by our house before my first day of school to make sure I'd know she was going to be my teacher. She taught me a little game with my folded hands on that first visit. It goes like this, "This is the church, and this is the steeple, open the doors, and see all the people!"

(If you run into me in town, I'll show you the hand motions. Maybe you know them already.)

Mrs. Tangen helped me learn my ABCs, and she helped me learn my numbers, and she taught me the Pledge of Allegiance, and she taught me to sing silly songs, and she helped me develop a love for books, and she helped me master the fine art of tying my shoes, and getting bundled up on my own in my snow pants and parka, my scarf and stocking cap and mittens and snow boots so we could go out and play on the snow banks in the playground outside the school. (It was an English teacher later on who taught me what a run-on sentence was.)

I have fond memories of many great teachers throughout the years. But, Helen Tangen got me started on the road toward higher education.

There was only one substitute teacher that stands out to me all these years later. His name was Mr. Brooks, the mean Mr. Brooks. He was a substitute for my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Pond. That Mean Mr. Brooks hit me in the head with a spelling book because I mispronounced the word "melancholy." Now, when I remember Mean Mr. Brooks I get somewhat melancholy.

Putting that aside, I have a lot of respect for the men and women who take on the task of being our educators. I know that much of what I am today I owe to those folks who taught me over the years: elementary school teachers, junior high school teachers, high school teachers, college professors and Bible college professors. They are all heroes in my book.

There was a recent CBS TV show, dedicated to educators, entitled "Teachers Rock!" It reminded me of the many great influences I have had.

And I agree, Teachers Rock!

-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at dougmdezotell@yahoo.com.

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Doug Dezotell
Memories and Musings
Doug Dezotell is pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church and a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette.