In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”
Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
I immediately thought of my ninth grade science teacher, Mrs. Conlon. Sure, I’ve had many wonderful, thoughtful, caring teachers, but Mrs. Conlon stands out the most. I remember the very first class I had of hers, sitting nervously in the back of the room. It was the last class of the very first day of high school, and my other five teachers were a mixture of nice and strict. I was wondering what type she would be. She was writing on the board when we first arrived. But when she turned around to welcome us, I immediately liked her. She was friendly, warm, and had an eccentric air about her, which I loved. Biology quickly became my favorite class and this was when I realized my love of science. I joined the club she was the faculty leader of, the Science Club, and had some of the best times of my high school life.
I remember we made a float for the homecoming parade…and it gave me something to look forward to for months. Our school’s team, the golden eagles, were playing the rival high school’s team, the bears. We decided to build a cage on our float with a bear inside and golden eagle football players lovingly waving and cheering at the crowd. But wait, that’s too boring, I thought. When it’s our time to “shine” (a.k.a. the parade stops so we can dance around), why don’t we have the bear escape? And how about the golden eagles triumphantly beat it back into its cage, as we hoped to demolish the opposing team? No one wanted to be the bear, though. The costume was hot and it would be weird to shake and rattle the cage bars and then embarrassingly get “beaten” back into the cage.
Well, of course I had to volunteer. Who wouldn’t want to act like a bear?
It was awesome. It was so much fun. Mrs. Conlon was out there with us day after day, helping make our float and sewing together the bear costume. She really went above and beyond what was asked of her, she should have made us do all the work, but she was too nice to do that to us. When we had to come in on Saturdays just to make sure it was ready in time, she gave up some of her time off to come help us.
But that wasn’t all she did for me. We had some of my mom’s old friends living with us, and they were horrible house guests, to put it gently. I won’t get into them here because this is a post bragging about how awesome my old science teacher was, but let’s just say it caused the whole house to have a lot of tension with each other. One day, I arrived home from school and immediately the older daughter (who was college aged) starting picking a fight with me, I can’t even remember about what. Then her little sister (around my age, but she had dropped out of school) joined in with her, yelling at me and continuing the fight, and I decided to ride my bike back to school. I was a bus kid because my school was five miles away, but I didn’t care, because anywhere would be better than being home. And the library was always open late and I could hole myself up in there and read to my heart’s content until my mom came home from work.
After the bike ride up there (which felt like an eternity to a 15-year-old kid), I was brooding and fuming (as teenagers like to do) and was too upset to want to read. So, I went to find Mrs. Conlon. She was on her way to a meeting, but after seeing my face and hearing about how I rode my bike back up to school immediately after arriving home, she sat down with me and talked to me for over two hours. About the family, about my mom, about my brother, about my struggling grades, about anything and everything. I remembered towards the end of our talk that she had said she was on her way to a meeting and asked her about it. She told me I was much more important than going to a boring meeting and she would much rather have been sitting there talking to me.
I started to cry. I really felt like she was the one adult in my life that I could count on, that I could trust, that I felt really truly cared for me. She could have told me to go home, to go find a school counselor, to come back another day, anything really. She certainly didn’t have to blow off a meeting for me, that wasn’t in her job description. But she stayed and she talked to me and I felt better than I had in weeks. It’s been over 10 years and I still have fond memories of her and what an amazing, compassionate, incredible person she was. I came to see her occasionally throughout the years, the last time was when I started college in 2009, and she always remembered me, was always so excited to see me and catch up and genuinely seemed to care how life was turning out for me. I miss her terribly and she will forever be one of the most special people in my life, and definitely the teacher whom had the biggest impact for the best on my life. She instilled in me a love of science, she showed me compassion in a turbulent time in my life, she encouraged me to go after my dreams of becoming a nurse, and she taught me that it doesn’t matter where you came from in life, that you are still important and worthy and can do anything or be anything you want to be.