Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Pintip Dunn is Hot at Teacher

Our Golden Heart nominee feature continues with my friend and fellow Marylander, Pintip Dunn. Pintip's entry, Forget Tomorrow sounds great. Best of luck in the Golden Heart, Pintip! Now, tell us why you're Hot for Teacher...
Hot for teacher? Um, no thanks. I did have male teachers at my high school. Maybe they were cute? I have no idea. I just wasn't the type of girl who noticed that kind of thing. To me, there was a sharp dividing line between student and teacher. Teenager and adult. Us versus them. It just never occurred to me to think of a teacher in that way.

Now, hot AT teacher? Oh, yeah, that's happened.

It was my senior year in high school. I was on the debate team, and it meant everything to me. I would spend countless hours researching in the library, and nearly every weekend, I would travel to nearby and far-away schools to compete in debate tournaments. It was my goal to qualify for the national tournament, and I would've done almost anything to do so.

Anything, that is, except jeopardize my chances of getting into my dream college. That fall, the date of the SATs happened to fall on the same weekend as a Very Important Tournament. Now, I no longer remember why this tournament was so important. Maybe it was the last big tournament before the National Qualifier; maybe it was simply a prestigious competition. But my debate coach and I argued over my decision to re-take the SATs. Or rather, he stormed, and I listened. It was as if my previous three years of hard work meant nothing. All of a sudden, if I opted to skip this tournament, I was the worst student ever. I was letting down my squad, my partner, myself.

I left this argument absolutely mortified. My debate coach wasn't just disappointed in me. He was angry. And short of changing my mind (which wasn't happening), there wasn't a thing I could do about it.

The following Monday, I walked into fourth period class with sweating palms. But when my debate coach asked to speak with me, it wasn't to chew me out. Instead, he apologized.

Apologized! He had overreacted, he said, and upon further consideration, he could understand where I was coming from, and he was sorry he let his emotions get the best of him.

I may or may not have gaped during this entire speech. No adult had ever spoken to me this way before. As if no line existed between teacher and student. As if we were equals.

I've had many wonderful and inspirational mentors in my life. But one of the most important lessons I've learned comes from this moment.

We may be at different stages in our lives, but we all deserve respect. To this day, I am as likely to apologize to a colleague as to my three-year-old child. If I have overreacted, if I have said things I didn't mean, then the recipient of my words deserves an apology -- regardless of age.

You know what else I learned? Teachers are human, just like me (gasp!). Knowing what I know now, if I could go back to my high school years, would I find any of my teachers hot?

Hmmm, I'll have to think on that one...

Pintip Dunn lives with her husband and children in Maryland. She is a 2012 Golden Heart finalist in the YA category and is represented by Beth Miller of Writers House. She blogs at the Waterworld Mermaids.

Thanks so much for visiting with us, Pintip! I love that your teacher was humble enough to swallow his pride and do the right thing. A very good example, indeed.

So how about you, dear readers? Did you have an inspirational mentor? What did he or she teach you?

33 comments:

Denny S. Bryce said...

I just wrote a lengthy comment that was eaten:)...but I wanted to say hi Pintip (and Kimberly)!

I've been fortunate to have a number of mentors, but my high school history teacher stands out. He really encouraged my curiosity for learning, and was just a stellar teacher.

Other mentors along the way is my first boss in PR. I was not a business writer, and he took the time to help me and not just edit my work, but explain the how and why of written communication as it relates to the business world. A great guy I worked with for 11 years.

Hey, looking forward to seeing you in Anaheim next week!

dianabelchase said...

Hi Pintip!

Congratulations on your Golden Heart nomination!

I remember a lot of things in High School -- I was on debate and forensics, too. It is obvious that your teacher was initially thinking of what was best for the team and for him, but not for you and your future. I'm glad he apologized and you didn't go into the SATs with that hanging over your head.

For me, there were two moments. One when a teacher asked me out -- it was so ewwww. Like you, I saw a definite boundary between teacher and student and knew even then how inappropriate it was.

The second was when I was editor of the newspaper, and the advisor to the school magazine asked to see me. I'd never spoken to this man in my life -- except maybe saying hi in the halls.

He was having major health issues, and because he loved the school magazine so much, he needed someone to take over while he went into the hospital -- he wasn't returning to school that year. He wanted me to give up the newspaper, because the magazine was such a big job. I negotiated -- for the first time in my life -- and said, I'd do both jobs, but I couldn't leave the paper. He finally agreed, because he had no choice. I was left in charge of the entire magazine, with no advisor, no adult to turn to. It was as if I'd become him -- directing the staff, the budget, writing checks, arranging for printing, etc. Talk about growing up quickly. It was a pivotal moment for me. To this day, I'm so proud of that issue and so honored he thought me capable of doing it!

Sending you a big hug,
Diana Belchase

Pintip said...

Yay, Denny! So excited to see you next week, too! So sorry about your comment getting eaten, but thank you for retyping a version of your comment! Your mentors sound great, especially your PR boss. What a great guy!

Pintip said...

Thanks, Diana! We will have to compare notes on our debate/forensics days sometime. (I was editor of the school newspaper, too, Lol). I am impressed (although not terribly surprised) that you were given such a big job as a student. You should be proud! And I think you are probably capable of anything!

Natalie said...

Not sure why, but blogger ate my first comment! What a great post, Pintip - I think it's pretty fantastic with teachers (or any adults in authority) apologize to their students. It shows a certain self-awareness that I think sticks with people. Too cool.

Can't wait to meet you in Cali, girl! We YA ladies are going to have so much fun! :-)

Elisa Beatty said...

Congrats again, Pintip, on your Golden Heart nomination! (And what a fabulous author photo!!)

I'm so glad your teacher apologized to you--like parents, teachers teach as much by example as by lecturing, and it's good to know he did the right thing.

See you in Anaheim!

Pintip said...

Natalie, absolutely agree. So now that I've become an adult (who, me?!), I try to show the same self-awareness. Gotta admit, though, it was pretty fun to apologize to my then-two-year-old for the first time. And not nearly as intimidating as apologizing to a peer, Lol.
Six more days!!!! So excited.

Pintip said...

Thanks, Elisa! Congrats to you, too!
I think teaching is one of the most important jobs because teachers are so instrumental in shaping a child's mind...so keep up the good work!

Eileen Emerson said...

I had a fight with a teacher that *didn't* result in an apology.

However, several of my other teachers came to my defense, and that taught me more about myself (and them) than an apology from my awful teacher ever would.

I can't wait to meet you in person, Pintip!

Melissa Landers said...

Hey, Pintip! Thanks for visiting! That's an awesome story. Back in the day when I was teaching, I tried to own up to my mistakes, too. It wasn't easy, but I wanted to set an example that we all make mistakes, and it's important to say 'sorry.'

Also, the MC in my book is captain of the debate team. She kicks ass and takes no prisoners. You remind me a lot of her. ;)

Lorie Langdon said...

Welcome Pintip!
I remember that exact moment when I realized adults (including parents and teachers) were just human. It was eye opening and a little scary.
Great post!
Thanks for stopping by. =)

Pintip said...

Oooohhh, Eileen, that's the worst. Unfortunately, most fights end up that way (without an apology), which was why my teacher made such an impression on me. So happy that the other teachers came to your defense, though!
I can't wait to meet you, too!

TerriOsburn said...

I'm very happy to hear you stuck to your guns and that the teacher apologized. Says a lot about both of you. I had one teacher that I never seemed to see eye to eye with. She was a nun (Catholic school!) and was furious when she heard I would not be going to a four year college.

She ranted and raved about my potential and how I didn't understand how much I would be missing. In reality, it simply wasn't an option financially, or didn't seem so based on what I knew then.

Today I know she was right and sometimes wish I'd listened, but then I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today. And I did go back as an adult and get a four year degree.

If I thought I could find her around somewhere, I'd love to tell her she was right but that things turned out in the end.

Can't wait to meet you next week!

Pintip said...

Melissa,
Is the MC from ALIENATED? If so, then you've got a debate captain heroine in a YA sci-fi? Wow, I think this book just leaped to the top of my TBR list! Can't wait for it to come out!
Ha ha -- I wish I kicked ass and took no prisoners. But as long as my characters do it, good enough!

Pintip said...

Thank you, Lorie. I know what you mean. There was a separate incident when I realized that my parents were only human -- and that was a pretty pivotal moment, as well. Definitely eye-opening and definitely scary!

Jean said...

An inspirational moment, Pintip! Thanks for sharing. I learned a long time ago that an apology is important to the receiver, especially your children. A lot of wasted emotional energy goes into proving "your right" when a simple acknowledgement of another's opinion, an apology if needed goes a long way to keeping relationships intact. I can't think of a specific instance, but I know I try to learn from everyone.

Good luck in Anaheim. I'll be cheering for you. You're a Firebird, and I'll see you soon.

Pintip said...

Terri,
Hindsight is 20/20, and I think you are right. If you had listened to her, you would not be the person you are today. Life has a way of working out, even if it's not in the way that we expected. Good for you for going back as an adult to get a four-year degree! Not an easy thing to do, and it says a lot about your character.
Next week is going to be a blast, isn't it?

Pintip said...

Jean,
The one thing I've always been good at (hmmm...maybe it stems from this incident? never made the connection before) is admitting when I'm wrong. And apologies have a way of opening up communication. My five-year-old, in particular, has gotten very good at saying, "You hurt my feelings when you..." Of course, sometimes the fill-in-the-blank is "You hurt my feelings when you punished me"! But she is learning, and we are talking about our emotions, and that's what's important.
From one Firebird to another, you are about to soar to success, and I can't wait to be around to witness it! See you next week!

Loni Lynne said...

Pintip,
Great post! I had many teachers all over the country (I moved quite a bit). I will say each taught me something in their own way but none really hit me the way my 5th grade Math teacher did. Ms. Douglas was amazing! And it wasn't Math that she inspired me with. She was the director and cordinator for a local Children's Theater Group and asked me to perform in her production of "Ballad of China". It was my first exposure to theater arts and I loved it. She also taught me that 'writing' was a form of acting. I could be any character I wanted to... I've lived with that thought.

All the best to you at the Golden Heart this coming week! I can't wait to hear all about it.

Hugs from you fishy sis!

Pintip said...

Loni, How wonderful! Isn't great how teachers do not have to be confined to the subject they teach when it comes to inspiration?
Hugs to you, too!

Wendy La Capra said...

Loved reading this story--how his mistake became your insight/inspiration.

Pintip said...

Thank you, Wendy! I look forward to meeting you!

Nikki McIntosh said...

Great story Pintip!! Some people would only remember the negative, but you learned from the positive part ... says a lot about you!

Looking forward to meeting you in Anaheim!!

Tammy Baumann said...

Great post Pintip.

The best part of your story to me was you learned to forgive and even made your teacher’s mistake a life lesson for yourself. Your kids are very lucky to have such a fine example as you!

Congrats on the GH final, see ya next week!

Deborah Wright said...

Lovely story, Pintip, and a great lesson!

I loved: "You know what else I learned? Teachers are human, just like me (gasp!)." I never had to come to that realization about teachers -- I always thought of them as just normal people...well, people anyway. My "gasp!" moment came when I realized the authors of the books I loved were just people. How could that be?? But then I started thinking, if they can write books, maybe I could, too...LOL

Pintip said...

I try, Nikki, although I have to say, I'm not always successful! Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you next week!

Pintip said...

Aw, thanks, Tammy! That is maybe the nicest compliment you could give me. Hope you had fun (are having fun?) with Kim and her kids, and see you next week!

Pintip said...

Deborah, I totally had that realization, too! A few years ago, I did not know a single author. Not a single one. I was (am still!) a total fangirl when I meet authors whose books I admire, and it blows my mind to think, "Wow. They're just people, too!"

Carlene said...

Hi Pintip! Love your hot AT teacher moment. And how things turned out. My favorite author frequently uses this saying in her posts and appearances, "First do no harm." I try to emulate that. Good luck at Nationals! I'll be nearby in heart and spirits with you xoxoxo

Pintip said...

Hi Carlene! Thanks for stopping by! I think that's
a quote from the medical profession, right? One of my favorite signatures (and I'm paraphrasing) is "Always be kinder than you need to be... You don't know what battles others are facing."

M. Kassel said...

It was very impressive of that teacher to apologize! And you took a beautiful life lesson from it, which is impressive of you! Thank you for sharing your story, Pintip. That was a great post!

Pintip said...

Thanks, M. Glad you enjoyed the story. To me, the apology by far outweighs the mistake (which we all make).

Kimberly said...

Pintip!
I am so sorry I didn't post on your day. All I can say is "Cross Country Road Trip with Five Kids." That's it. LOL.
Anyway, what a great post. I love that your teacher apologized to you. It was a great lesson for both of you. I always try to apologize to anyone I feel that I've wronged--regardless of their age. I will apologize to my kids just as much as anyone else. It's a good example to set. Nobody is above giving an apology. And nobody is below receiving one.
Good for you for standing your ground. He probably wouldn't have thought much of you if you had caved. It's always important to take a stand and stick with it. And just as important to back down gracefully when you realize your stand may not be that important.
Sorry again for missing the post on your day. Sorry!!!