Now most of the teachers I know have some wonderful story about how they were motivated and encouraged by a WONDERFUL teacher that saw potential in them, and told them to reach for the stars!
I didn't like school and it wasn't really very fond of me either. When teachers come to me and say "Can you believe so and so did this!" I'm usually thinking, "Yup, and I did it better and more often then they have."
I was in the Principal's office so many times I asked the Principal if I could call him Mike. There were 25 ceiling tiles in the waiting area outside his office. My mom was the bus driver, and Mr. Daniels used to meet her in the bus loop holding onto my coat collar. I used to look out the big windows eager to escape. Once a teacher yelled me at me to pay attention and I repeated what she had said for the previous 5 minutes. My first job interview was with a principal that had suspended me twice for fighting! When I told my former teachers that I was an educator the response was laughter. One told me that it was my penance!
So how did I get here?
My darn little brother!
My little brother Jim, is 13 years younger then I am. He is the reason I am here. Well, him and a certain first grade teacher. I was in my second year of college when Jim went into first grade. I was studying political science, business, marine biology. OK, I wasn't quite sure what I was doing, but I was having a great time doing it!
I came home after my first week at school and my very eager brother told me that he had the same first grade teacher that I had, and she remembered me. (I must apologize to my brother Mike who is only 3 years younger than me. Teachers were a little afraid to have a Griffin after me.) He excitedly showed me the assignments he had done during his first week of school. Looking at the worksheets they seemed familiar and I passed it off as deja vu, I mean all worksheets look similar. Later that weekend, feeling nostalgic, I went up to the attic and looked for some of my old school papers. I came across a large manila envelope labeled first grade. Upon opening it I grew angry. I took the papers downstairs and showed them to my parents. As we looked at them we saw that the worksheets I had done and the worksheets my brother had done 13 years later... were identical. The funniest/scariest part is that my worksheets were done on a mimeograph and my brother's worksheets, well... they were photocopies of the mimeograph original.
She was a teacher that taught 1 year, 30 times.
When I went to visit his classroom I looked at her "lesson" book. The pages were yellow with age.
I went back to college that next week and changed my major to Elementary Education. I knew that I could do a better job than her. I knew that my brother was not receiving the education he deserved. I was determined that I would take her job and provide the students of my town a better education then they had been receiving.
Ever since then, I have tried to live up to the promise I made to myself that day. I've succeeded most days, weeks, months, and even years. However, I keep growing and learning, I want to have a 35 year career, not 1 year 35 times.
I have to tell you about the first cooperating teacher I had during my student teaching. She had started teaching in 1953 (43 years) and she didn't believe men should be elementary school teachers. One of her first questions was to ask me if I was a "fruit" and yes she used the word "fruit." I did not remain long in that class!