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Teacher Appreciation: Mrs. Walsh, My Ninth Grade English Teacher

Joined: 6/24/2011
Posts: 29
When I began Freshman year in high school, I was not what you would call a model student. In fact, I was more what you would call a "model goof-off."

I guess you could say, I was going through a bad spell. I was sick and tired of school. I just wanted....well, I didn't know what I wanted and that was the problem! But I knew one thing. I sure didn't want to be in school learning "boring things."

Therefore, I began doing poorly in all my classes. My parents fretted. The guidance counselor was called in. No one seemed to know what to do with me. I was always a straight "A" student. I made the honor roll every time in middle school. My parents became very frustrated by my academic decline.

Then someone suggested I be placed in a remedial class.

Enter Mrs. Walsh, the teacher of this class of "misfits" that I was thoroughly mortified to now be a part of. Mrs. Walsh was a rather zaftig elderly lady who sported a tight white bun. She lumbered through the hallways in shapeless flowered shifts and support hoes, as kids wrinkled up their noses in disgust and gave her a wide berth. Kids, after all, can be very mean, and I was no exception.

Oh brother! I remember thinking, the first day I found myself sitting in Mrs. Walsh's class. Why did I get stuck with this boring old lady? This spells disaster for my image!

But Mrs. Walsh didn't seem to notice my severe lack of enthusiasm. In fact, she was thrilled to have me in her class; always acting super kind and applauding every time I knew an answer. Naturally, I knew all the answers, since the class was really easy for me.

After all, before I began my rebellious stage, I loved to read and would happily devour books by the dozens. I also loved to write; scribbling little stories down at the spur of the moment. However, since my hormones had started perculating, I simply lost all interest in more intellectual pursuits.

As the class progressed, Mrs. Walsh handed me this really thick book to read.

"You'll like it!" she exclaimed with a happy gleam in her eye.

I looked at the book I was holding. It was a copy of the classic novel, Gone With the Wind. I was absolutely horrified by the sight of it. I was convinced this must be the most boring book on earth. And the fattest!

I was so angry about having to read this "dumb" book that I passed Mrs. Walsh in the hallway that afternoon, giving her a SUPER wide berth. She had a big smile on her face when she saw me. I'll always remember that smile. It lit up her whole face.

She liked me so much, and I just didn't know why. She was always so happy to see me. She had such hope for me. She saw something positive and worthwhile within my surly teenage self that no one else could see.

But that day, brimming with anger about that "stupid book" I had to read, I ignored her.

Maybe I felt guilty about ignoring her, because that night, I started reading Gone With the Wind. And then....I couldn't stop! I ended up loving the book;
the fashions of the era, along with the ups and downs of Scarlett O'Hara's impetuous love life. Who knew a "dumb old book" could be so captivating?

After that, I made more of an effort in Mrs. Walsh's class, delighting my teacher with a plethora of insightful essays and creative stories. I got my reading and writing "mojo" back, which was an important step towards getting back on the road to positivity. And it was all thanks to this kindly gray haired old lady.

When everyone else had given up on me, Mrs. Walsh never stopped believing in my potential. She saw what even I had ceased to see...that maybe I wasn't such a hopeless case after all. That is the power of an amazing teacher; a teacher that I wish, to this day, that I had not ignored in the hallway. Thank you, Mrs. Walsh!
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