Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching Mrs. Wara

When I heard our topic this rotation would be Hot for Teacher, I immediately knew I wanted to talk about Mrs. Wara. (Not like that! Elevate your minds for a sec and try to keep up with the class.)
My senior year in high school, I was perfectly content to coast into graduation. I took classes like peer counseling, drama, choir, and unscheduled (yep, it’s a real thing). I signed up for any extracurricular activity that involved a field trip. I apparently was on the Academic Team, which I have no recollection of but a friend insists is true. And I often missed classes due to *fake cough* illness or the burning need to go back to bed. To say I was a slacker is like saying the sun’s kinda warm.

Then came Senior Economics, my first class with Mrs. Wara.

As I already stated, I was dedicated to blowing off the year, so the details of our first encounter are a bit fuzzy. But in my mind, it went something like this.
Me: (Walking into Senior Econ) La la la. I feel some cramps coming on. I wonder if I can get Becky’s mom to pick me then I can go home and reread Les Misérables. “Hi Mrs. Wara. I’m Carey Blackmon. It is so wonderful to meet you. My, that is a lovely sweater set you’re wearing.”

Mrs. W: “I know who you are Blackmon. You are a slacker. You don’t have what it takes to pass my class. You are going to fail and then I am going to enjoy giving you the grade you deserve. (insert evil laugh as she wipes the drool from her snout) I eat kids like you for breakfast.” *end scene*

Did I mention that in my version, she always looks like The Teacher from the Black Lagoon?

BTW - This is a great series!
I was outraged! How dare Mrs. Wara judge, and thereby limit, my potential? Who did she think she was? More importantly, who did she think I was? I’d show her!!! So I made it my semester goal to teach my teacher a lesson. My need for vindication drove me to apply myself with ninja-like devotion. No other time in my years of public education, did I work so hard, or attend so regularly.

Out of Mrs. Wara’s numerous Econ classes that semester, I got the third highest grade. And my A+ + + + + + + felt like sweet revenge. But to my surprise, Mrs. Wara seemed to genuinely enjoy giving me the grade I deserved—the grade I had earned.

To this day, I take pride in that accomplishment above all other k-12 academic achievements. For years, I also took pride in proving Mrs. Wara wrong. But as I matured, I began to see it a bit differently. Maybe her nefarious plan was never about me proving anything to her, but proving something to myself. And  boy, did she read me like a dime store novel.

If Mrs. Wara had approached me with an inspiring speech about living up to my potential, I would’ve dismissed her. If she’d flat out told me I needed to try harder, I’d have done less. But her shrewd reverse psychology motivated me to push myself to a new level.

So thank you, Mrs. Wara, for motivating me in the best way possible and for teaching me a lesson that continues to inspire me to new feats of professional accomplishment! I am grateful.

YOUR TURN: Take a moment to honor a teacher who taught you a life lesson.


Write Life said...

Hear, hear! Well said and so, so true. There is one teacher that sits with me along this journey of mine. I remember him so very well. He was an inspiration, but I wasn't yet ready to receive. That doesn't mean his words were wasted, or his intentions to keep me on track. I just had to let them sink in first.

CareyCorp said...

@Escape Artist Linda - delayed inspiration is sometimes the best kind because it means the lessons are deeply imprinted on our persons. :) It funny how once we find our way, those lessons surface. Thanks for sharing.

Lorie Langdon said...

Love this story, Carey! It doesn't demonstrate how brilliantly stubborn you are at all (snicker ;).
I hope my boys have teachers who care enough to provoke and challenge them when necessary!
I had a few teachers who taught me life lessons...since next week's my turn, I'll wait to share.

Addy Rae said...

Mr. Zingsheim was my literature and creative writing teacher. He taught me that waiting around for the muse to strike would get me a failing grade and that I could, and would, write on demand. Not only that, but I could write well on demand. His influence saved me repeatedly during college and is the reason I'm working on a draft for novel #8. I'm still not fantastic at writing, but I do write prolifically and on a schedule!

CareyCorp said...

@Lorie - Me stubborn?! ;D

@Addy - Wow, what an invaluable lesson for writers! I wish someone had taught me that. Here's to Mr. Zingsheim. *claps*

Kimberly said...

I loved this story! Ah, the benefits of some good reverse psychology!
There are those who rise to meet challenges and those who would prefer to shrug and walk away. You aren't the type to shrug and walk away. :-) I knew how this story would end.
It would be great to send her this post! She would probably get a real kick out of it.

Loree Huebner said...

Mrs. P just had a way of teaching. She could even get the slackers to learn - that's saying something. She worked with them until they grasped the idea of what she was teaching. I know, I sat next to one, and he learned...we all learned from her.

Great post!

CareyCorp said...

@Kim - Thanks for the push-sent it. I wasn't sure about sending because of the Teacher from the Black Lagoon comment - hopefully she'll know I meant it humorously.

@Loree - Thanks for sharing. *raises glass* Here's a toast to Mrs. P, making a difference in our world.

Melissa Landers said...

What a great story! Rock on, Mrs Wara!