(I will post any and all notes about teachers who had a positive influence on you.
Kindergarten - Mrs. Ahlberg - kindness personified - even though she banned me from sandbox for throwing the sand. One day she put me in the big closet for a timeout and it had the blocks in it. It was FUN! She came back a while later and asked if it was time to come out but those blocks were just too much fun so my self imposed time out got extended. Met my first best friend Terry Johnson. We're still in touch. His mom, Doris, still alive in PA and dad, George, deceased last year, were my second parents. For many summers we camped in their trailer at Hammonasset and that made for astounding experiences.
First Grade - Miss Eisenstein - More KINDNESS and musical chairs. Dave Fitzpatrick, Richard Millane and moi "ganged" up and terrorized the playground. We'd attack kids from higher grades in our zeal for righteousness or so we thought. Whatever happened to my sweetheart Maureen Taft who moved away right at the end of the year? Heartbroken.
Second Grade - Mrs. Gibbons - DaDaDaDone - This was when the _ _ it hit the fan and she was it and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the fan was me. There was the reading group where speed meant smart to me. So while flying through my turn to read and Jane had on the Swee-ate-her it's possible that crystallizing moment was an impediment to my verbal skills for years to come. Seemed the whole reading group got the biggest laugh on me. Then the thought that crosses my mind that maybe my present day baldness is due to the strict teacher picking me up by my hair and carrying me out of the room. Betcha that wouldn't fly in this day and age (and you know my most fervent prayers were that my parents, especially my father, wouldn't find out) but then again they'd have the terrorist police in because of the live .22 caliber bullet being used by me to garner attention. Needed to find better ways to get attention but maybe her discipline may have played a role in athletics for years to come.
Third Grade - Miss Bonvino - More KINDNESS - Ran into her sister in an elevator in Middletown 6-7 years ago and she recognized me. Helen was doing well is my recollection and she deserves the best because she let me sit next to Mary Henderson the whole year. Then again she got me in trouble with my sister Cynthia on "bring a younger sibling day". We were supposed to be putting away our scribble drawings but my movements were to slow for Cynthia's sense of responsibility so Cynthia castigated me right in front of Mary. Mortification!!
Fourth Grade - Miss Steinkamp - Catharsis. My inspiration to become a teacher came one day in her class albeit negative. My new friend Jim Riddick only stayed in town a few years before moving to Middletown but we were competitors right thru high school. Miss Steinkamp moved to Oahu, Hawaii but in the eighteen winters of my living there we never ran into each other. Jake Salafia kept asking me to look her up. Sorta wish had followed thru on that but maybe still will. Spelling B's were the fun competitive learning games we played quite a bit that year and that had a positive effect.
Fifth Grade - Mrs. Planeta - Sports seemed to take on more meaning. Ray Libera, Tighe Davis and the new kid Henry Richards, Mary dumped me for him, made for good games. Mrs. Planeta was strict in a no nonsense way but at the same time warm and kind. Guess we were growing up. Will always remember the name Richard Waters flamboyantly etched into the back of the chair in front of me. Guess he wasn't too concerned about getting caught for graffiti or maybe he wasn't into planning ahead for consequences? Trouble was always easy to come by for me but as tempting as it was his name only got a little deeper.
Sixth Grade - Mr. Mann, Miss Cherlin, Miss. Adams - Remember showing off the first day of school while lined up and "swearing" loudly and everyone got quiet or oooohed. That lasted about ten minutes and then Mr. Mann was my homeroom teacher. The best part about him was we had his classes the last period on Wed & Fri and if we were absolutely quiet and finished our work he'd take us out for a half hour extra recess at the end of the day. One of those days Charlie Parsons was picking on Gary Kendall (Gary is a maybe) and from pitchers "mound" Mr. Mann yelled at 16 year old Charlie to knock it off. Charlie kept pummeling Gary so from first base stupid me ran across the field jumped on old Charlie, knocking him off Gary, with the "troops" Mr.. Mann right behind me and the situation was equalized. Yea right! After school that day Charlie laid in wait and chased me all the way to St. John's Church where my refuge was safe for the next hour or so inside those doors. God was definitely good that afternoon. With Harley Pelletier as my lookout my escape back to Main Street was secured at least for awhile. Mr. Mann used to flirt quite a bit with Miss Cherlin who always had me writing lines for some indiscretion although her music tests were easy because Nicky Carroll's sister spent many mostly unfruitful hours teaching me piano. Miss. Adams was our first introduction to French and commanded respect. We also played the dictionary game that Carol Crooks almost always won. This was the year the Pelletier boys moved into the neighborhood from Middletown and that was great. Rodney is still a good, although too infrequently visited, friend.
On to the new Jr-Sr High School but it's time to go back to work. If anyone cares for more school reminiscing drivel email me at TheTrampolinePlace@snet.net .
Mrs. Loveless was a true "student's librarian" at Cromwell High. Librarians are supposed to be helpful. But Mrs. Loveless assisted students more by getting to know us and then helped locate books both within and beyond our often narrow ranges of interest. She touched many lives, by going beyond simply doing her job in her personal way. Although I have not seen her in decades, I remember a challenge she asked of me in my senior year to always remain loyal to my convictions while promising to learn about others' perspectives beyond my own. If I could tell you today after nearly four decades -- "thanks for that challenge Mrs. Loveless, and thanks for sowing the seeds of interest in the larger world. I've tried to live up to your challenge."
For many years I have wanted to thank Miss Frank who was the principle of Edna C. Stevens elementary school in the 60's - for her influence on me. There was one thing I always remember her saying that had a huge inpact on me growing up. I believe she said it in one those assemblies we had where she spoke. What she said sounds so simple but I believe it gave me a new confidence from that moment on. She said something like 'The only stupid question is the one not asked'. From that moment on I remember never being 'afraid' of asking a question for fear of what someone else might think of me. I believe it changed my education from that moment onward. So thank you Miss Frank for your wise words and caring enough to want to make a difference! You have!
Just thought I should share a little something about my own personnal experience with Coach Jake Salafia.
Coach Salafia was more than a teacher, coach, mentor, he was more importantly, a friend. He always showed interest in not only me, but my family. He knew my stengths and overlooked my weaknesses. He certainly was a positive influence in my life. Thanks Coach for all you did for me personally and for all you did collectively for your players.
I really did not care for school but a few of the teachers showed me the way to graduation. First, there was Mr. Ross. He always made sure that my grumpy face changed to a smile and personally worked with my Mom to ensure that I made the graduation walk. There were other teachers that were VERY nice to me and they are Mrs. Fales, and she helped me to see that men can cook also! Then there was Mr. Luke and he was a great man and always had a great joke for us. Thank you to all my teachers, I hope that you are all happy and making life work for you.
Mr. Luke (Science)- Mr Luke was always a happy go lucky man that never hesitated to lend anyone of us a hand when we needed it and he personally helped me with parents divorce offering his "ear" and listening to a confused young man. Thank you so much for being a great teacher and I wish you the best!
Mr. Ross (English)- Mr Ross personally offered assistance to me and was a teacher that made time for his students. When I was a senior, he personally sat me down and said " A smile goes a long way". I really didn't think to much of that but now I see that being positive is always the best way to be, He personally made sure that I kept in line and worked with my Mother to ensure my graduation! Thanks Mr Ross!!!!!!
Mrs. Fales (Home Ec) -Mrs Fales was a great teacher that took time out with me and explained how important it was to know how to cook and bake. Well, while in the Navy I managed to become a Sous Chef and I have her to thank for her gentle approach to cooking. She was a very nice lady and I wish the best for her! Thanks Mrs Fales.....
I have a few words of Appreciation for Mrs. Owens, Mrs. Hall, Mrs. Egan and Mr. Haines.
Mrs. Hall was the best English teacher I ever had. Mrs. Hall made words come to life. She helped me appreciate the English language and I believe she was the key person throughout my school days that set me in the right direction. Mrs. Hall believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. She had a "you can do it!" attitude. I want to excel in whatever I do and I often think of Mrs. Hall and know I can meet whatever challenges come my way. I worked with the Adult Literacy program in California and I always passed on the "you can do it!" to the people I worked with as well. Thank you Mrs. Hall for making learning fun!
Mrs. Owens was a wonderful lady. I remember trying out for the big choir. I so wanted to sing in the choir. Mrs. Owens gave me the chance to sing in both the big and little choir and I had the opportunity to sing in an all Connecticut chorus in my Senior year because she chose me as one of the representatives for our school. I love music! Mrs. Owens helped me to appreciate music even more than I ever thought I could. I went on to broadcasting school and had the opportunity to work in radio both in Connecticut and Southern California. Thanks in part to Mrs. Owens, music will always be in my heart.
Mrs. Egan taught me typing and business training. Mrs. Egan asked me to be the Accounts Typist for the yearbook in 1965. What a great opportunity! I learned so much through her teaching and experience received in her class. Mrs. Egan was a strict teacher but I can surly say she helped prepare her students for the "real world." My thanks to Mrs. Egan: I put her training to use every day of my life in the business world.
Mr. Haines's Drivers Training provided my ticket to life. I don't know how he ever did it. Yikes! I remember my first time driving, I went into a ditch, backed over some little pine trees and drove over a persons newly seeded lawn. I noticed the following week they had large rocks on the corner of their property. I can't imagine why! Even after that, he never gave up on me. I remember him saying "look who has her foot on the gas and look who has his foot on the brake!" My friend Maureen who was also taking Driver's Training was in the back seat practically rolling over and laughing her head off. What a trip!!! In the end I actually got my license. Thanks Mr. Haines for not throwing me out of the car. Hey, I got my license the first time around! It took a good teacher to get me there and a whole lot of patience. That was a long time ago but it seems like only yesterday.
I saw the website on "memories of teachers" - please add Mr. Haines to the list - he was our driving instructor and had the patience of Job - I often wonder if he thinks of students who needed "extra encouragement" - like myself. He might be encouraged to know I am accident-free since high school and drove from Michigan to Connecticut and New York many times! Hope he comes to the reunion.
I also have fond thoughts of Mrs. Regina Lee - she was one smart cookie in and out of the classroom! Due to her influence I taught high school English for many years!
Thank you, Mrs. Dorothy Owen for teaching me the beauty of notes;
Thank you, Mrs. Sally Hall for teaching me the beauty of words;
and Thank you Mrs. Reggie Lee for not turning me in when you saw me smoking
in the girls room my junior year.
I saw Mrs. Lang in 1998 or 99 and was telling her how I still made one of the recipes (a ham-potato-pepper dish) that we learned in Home Ec. She said that many people told her that, though it was nearly always a different thing that each person remembered and made (For my sister, it was brownies.) I told her I also had her to thank for making sure my elbows were cleam and soft. She had told us that her daughter had come down dressed for a dance, and when she turned around, her elbows were gray and rough. This may or may not have been true but it was not a pretty picture. It impressed me enough that I think about it even now. She also taught me that corduroy was not the best material to be worn by someone a bit chunky. Thank you, Mrs. Lang.
Dorothy Owen was an amazing woman as well as a wonderful teacher. Mizowen not only taught us music, but the history and significance of the music, and how it related to what was going on in the world at the time. In rehearsal and performance, she demanded our undivided attention (as well as the audience's), but after class she was very approachable. I felt honored to be selected for both the Little Choir (20 voices male and female) and the Boy's Octet, which she always called the "Octoot!" The octet usually rehearsed at her house, one evening a week, and she always had the refrigerator well stocked with Coke. During our senior year, she and Mr. Huffstettler team taught a course they called Humanities, which covered a broad spectrum of cultural areas. As a class we went on field trips to museums in New York, theatres closer to home, a tour of Hartford's Austin Organ company, followed by a performance on an Austin Organ at St. Joseph's Cathedral by Mizowen's organ teacher. They had the poet Wilbert Snow, who had also been an interim governor of Connecticut, speak to our class. We were encouraged to meet and interview local artists. I chose John Risley, who was a sculptor in residence at Wesleyan University, and whose wife was a friend of my mother's through the Wesleyan Potters. I conducted the interview in their home, which was full of their artwork, both practical and whimsical. My favorite memory of Mizowen has to do with the rock'n'roll band I was in. Most of our teachers didn't approve of our music, and took every opportunity to let us know they felt we were wasting our time and talent on "that noise!" Not Mizowen! She made sure we had space to practice after school, and allowed us to play in the school talent show, during which several other teachers walked out. She may not have liked rock'n'roll either, but she encouraged us because she knew it was something real and meaningful to us. I also caught her tapping her foot during one of our performances!
Mrs. Owen is the one who stands out for me. She gave me the opportunity to do my first solo at a Christmas Concert with the "Little Choir" and was there to play the piano at a St. John's Church show that Kevin Daly produced. Imagine, a 15 year old boy producing and directing a show of Broadway standards. From time to time I would sing at a wedding and Mrs. Owen was always there to help me prepare and go over the music at her house even through my 20's. Her Music Literature class taught me how to recognize the great classical music and to this day refer back to those classes in identifying a piece I might hear on the radio. She truly enabled me to have a lifelong love of music. The last time I talked to her was in 1987. She had moved to Vero Beach Florida and I was in West Palm at the time. We talked about my driving up someday but unfortunately one thing or another prevented a get-together and I lost track of her.
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