The Gift That Keeps Giving

While it’s important to find leaders who mentor and provide guidance when starting any pursuit, it is especially true in education.  It is my pleasure to write about one such individual who has been a source of inspiration to me for almost forty years.  If you already know Nancy Wheeler, you probably look up to her as a person or educator.  If you’ve never met Nancy before, it brings me great joy to introduce her.

I first met Nancy when I was doing my student teaching at Pine Hill School in 1983-84.  In those days, unless you had experience working in schools, student teachers did not have any on the job training until their fifth year of schooling.  (I’m glad to see that this practice has changed because earlier educational opportunities make far more sense.)

Since student teachers were assigned a master teacher, a college student had no idea if that educator would become a source of inspiration or a complete dud.  I hit the lottery when it came to master teachers.  

I spent most of my student teaching year with a fabulous role model and teacher, Cynthia Van Vleck, in her sixth-grade classroom.  She held the unusual position of teaching principal.  From the first hour in her classroom, it was clear I was watching a master of the craft.  She was a charismatic and talented teacher who could hold an audience’s attention.  I modeled much of my teaching style based on her approach—firm, fair, and consistent.  While always remaining in control, she wasn’t afraid to have fun with her students.  We were a good match in that respect.

Partway through my student teaching year, it was time to switch classrooms.  Current practice now involves teachers splitting their placements equally, usually going to a different school. In my experience, I walked a few doors down and went from sixth-grade to second-grade for the next three weeks.

Nancy Wheeler had a different teaching style than Cynthia but was equally effective. Nancy modeled her approach after famed educator, Madeline Hunter.  Hunter’s model gained such acclaim in the 1970s and 1980s that it became known as the Madeline Hunter Teaching Method. While space doesn’t allow me to go into great depth here, her approach encouraged teachers to follow the same seven-step procedure whenever teaching a lesson.  Much of what I had learned until then was that the teacher largely disseminated information to students. One key element I learned from Nancy was the use of student collaboration. 

As someone who was still finding his way, the biggest takeaway for me was that there was more than one way to be an effective teacher.  Cynthia and Nancy were two of the best teachers I saw during my thirty-one-year career.  What luck for me to meet them at such an impressionable age!

While Nancy was one of those leaders who influenced my teaching, she also was a role model.  Watching her interact with other people, I thought, I want to be like that.  She was kind, sensitive, and genuinely concerned about everyone she encountered. 

After several years of teaching, she moved into administration and became one of my first principals.  Not everyone makes that transition smoothly, but Nancy was a skilled leader right from the get-go.  She was supportive and relished the opportunity to take over a classroom for a period or two so that a teacher could leave and observe another educator.

I was hardly the only one Nancy inspired.  She had this same effect on her students and many of my colleagues.  I saw her reach some of the most challenging kids, who had a mountain of dysfunction to overcome.  She won them over with her caring and compassionate manner.  She showed in her actions that she was always in their corner.  They did not want to let her down—neither did I.

Another quality that made Nancy unique was that she would do whatever it took to help a family out.  She did it with great sensitivity and never for any other reason than to be a caring human.  Behind the scenes, Nancy provided clothing, food, and hope to the most down and out.  She would give a ride to a needy parent to the Food Bank or help a student who lacked adequate clothing feel special by taking him/her on a shopping trip to a nearby clothing store.  Most people were unaware because she did it discreetly.

Nancy could reach any audience, whether it be children or adults.  One of my favorite stories to tell about her involves a school assembly regarding earthquake safety.  We live near a fault, and earthquakes occur with great frequency in our area.  Discussing earthquake preparedness is hardly an exciting topic for children, but leave it to Nancy Wheeler to come up with the perfect way to capture and hold their attention. 

When we had a school assembly, the approximately three hundred students from K-6th grades would gather in the multipurpose room, sitting on an uncomfortable, hard floor.  The multipurpose room also served as the school’s lunchroom.  After lunch, the custodian cleaned and folded up the tables to move them out of the way. 

On this occasion, a lunch table was situated curiously at the front of the room to start the assembly.  What was it doing there?  Nancy had a plan. 

Nancy told the assembled students that she needed some volunteers.  Talk about leading bees to honey.  Dozens of excited hands went into the air. 

“Pick me, Mrs. Wheeler!” shouted one. 

“I’ll do it,” yelled another.

“I never get picked,” lamented a third. 

One of the funniest things about elementary school children is they volunteer enthusiastically without knowing what they’re signing up for.  Never mind if the job involved picking up trash or sweeping the cafeteria.  It was all about getting chosen.

Nancy scanned the sea of hopeful faces and picked eight children.  She often selected some of the most disruptive children because she was wise enough to understand that these were the kids you wanted on your side during a demonstration.  They would usually rise to the occasion when put in a position of responsibility.

Nancy directed the eight to crawl under the lunch table.  Every face in the audience wondered what her intentions were.

She launched into the topic of the day—earthquake safety. She described the duck and cover procedure and the importance of protecting yourself from falling objects.  The kids needed to understand that they would be safer under the table. But how to prove that point?

She stepped out of her low-heeled shoes and climbed onto the lunch table in her bare feet.  The faces in the room told it all.  What is she doing?  I’ve never seen an adult climb up on a table before.

All the while, she was talking into a microphone as every eyeball in the room focused on her.

“You must get under the table as quickly as possible,” she began.  “But that’s not enough to keep you safe.  Once you’re under the table, hang onto the legs.”  The children cooperated instantly, reaching out for the nearest leg. “An earthquake can be strong, but you’ll be safe.  Let me show you.”

Much to everyone’s amazement, she began jumping on the table as the kids below held on for dear life.  Laughter filled the room.  No one could believe that the principal was jumping around on top of the table to emphasize her point.

I was teaching sixth-grade that year, so my class was seated near the back.  We were in hysterics because the scene was so comical.  It was the least possible thing anyone expected.

Precisely at that moment, a man I had never met before walked into the room, scanned the scene, and asked in bewilderment, “What’s going on?”

“Earthquake safety procedures,” I said, between laughs.

“Where is the principal?” asked the man with a disapproving look.

I could hardly contain myself, so I merely pointed to the lady who was still jumping on top of the table, much to the children’s delight.

After Nancy left our school, she continued to serve children for another decade in another district.  She became a teacher in the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program.  Sadly, Nancy understood that these children’s needs were often not met in the traditional school setting. 

I have no way of knowing how many children she touched over the years, but her impact was indisputable.  Nancy continued to volunteer and work in schools until the age of seventy-nine. 

It was a pleasure to talk to Nancy about her educational experiences. I learned that she recently had a visit with one of her former students.  What’s so remarkable about that, you may wonder?  The backstory tells everything about what kind of impression Nancy made on her students.  Her former pupil, now sixty-four years old, was a student for whom she held high expectations.  Unfortunately, he became involved with drugs at one point, and his life took a turn for the worse.  Nancy did not give up on him.  Over the years, he had remained in contact with her and has since cleaned up his life.  The part of the story I found most endearing was how Nancy had also maintained a relationship with her student’s father through the years.  When her student visited, he brought his ninety-one-year-old dad along. 

When I thought about writing this post, it occurred to me that the missing piece was learning who might have influenced Nancy when she became a teacher.  She lit up when I asked her about her early role models in education.

Nancy’s first job was under the leadership of a principal named Myrtle Payne.  Nancy taught 5th-6th grade in her first year, teaching at a small rural school in Feather Falls, California.  Myrtle had just been hired as principal in the school as the unruly kids had run off the last several administrators.  In addition to serving as the school’s 7th-8th grade teacher, Myrtle was the school’s principal.

Nancy described Myrtle as a strong, self-assured woman from the deep south, who would not take any guff from disrespectful middle schoolers.  She remembered Myrtle immediately asserting herself with the students.  The students were no longer going to run amok.  Myrtle got in their faces with her no-nonsense approach. 

One of the most significant changes Myrtle made was that she wanted the kids to have pride in their school.  Before taking the job, she insisted that the school board apply a fresh coat of white paint to the school.  Rather than have children sit idly at recess when they got in trouble, Myrtle put them to work.  She used some of her eighth-grade boys to dig up the hard ground around the school.  Myrtle directed the students to plant flower beds to beautify the school.  While the school’s outside appearance began to transform, the general feeling inside the walls also changed.  Myrtle gave the students stability and order.

Nancy and her husband, Joe, were always active in the community.  One year, the basketball coach from our local university took the team to Taiwan to play some exhibition games.  He wanted the student-athletes to have some spending money for the upcoming trip. He asked Joe and Nancy to put the guys to work, but the Wheelers became far more than employers.  They became role models and surrogate parents for these young men. 

Nancy shared one funny anecdote about how she and Joe invited the players to their home for an Easter dinner.  Many of these young men had never experienced anything like this from their days in the inner city.  Before dinner, Nancy remembered how they held an Easter egg hunt for the college students.  She chuckled in delight, recalling that day, remembering how much fun those “big kids” had while competing to find eggs.

To fully appreciate Nancy’s commitment, one must understand that she goes all-in when it comes to helping others.   A decade later, she still checks up on, counsels, and provides guidance to these grown men should they need it.

For more than a decade, I rarely saw Nancy.  She may not have been with me physically, but her teachings and wisdom remained.  One of the lessons she always communicated to her students was, “The greatest gift is the gift of yourself.” Those were more than mere words for Nancy.  She has lived them with her heart of gold.

Now, she has reentered my life again.  About a year and a half ago, I joined a writer’s group that Nancy has been a part of for more than thirty years.  Now I get to see her each week and read about some of her delightful school memories.  She is a teacher of teachers and one of the finest human beings I’ve ever known.

I am so grateful to call Nancy Wheeler my friend.  People like her remind me that we share a responsibility to our students, colleagues, and the teaching profession.  When we look at ourselves as part of a continuum of student learning, we pass on that passion and positive energy to future educators.  It is a privilege that we should not take lightly.    

86 thoughts on “The Gift That Keeps Giving

  1. Wonderful tribute to those who helped you excel in teaching, Pete! P.S. I loved the Madeline Hunter approach, which makes so much sense…especially that “anticipatory set.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 1:31 pm

      Right! I remember that well. It makes so much sense to find out what kids already know as well as to let them know where you’re going.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing this Pete. What an inspiration. I too had a wonderful mentor who I did my student teaching with and it had a tremendous impact on me. While I eventually decided to stay a children’s librarian, I used the wisdom and life lessons she imparted daily in my job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 1:35 pm

      I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a children’s librarian in retirement. Part of that is due to my love for being around children and also because I love literature. There’s nothing better than seeing kids excited about reading. Have you written about some of your experiences as a children’s librarian? I’d be interested in reading them if you’ve done so.

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      1. It’s very rewarding! I haven’t written anything, but maybe someday.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A wonderful post, Pete, about a wonderful woman. You’re lucky to have had such a role model to guide you, and it’s great that you have now reconnected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 1:37 pm

      She is genuinely one of the most inspirational people I know. She doesn’t do any kind of social media, but I sent her an email with the blog post so that she would understand how much I appreciate her.

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      1. I’m sure she will have appreciated that – and being reminded about jumping up and down on a table 😊

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      2. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 3:01 pm

        There were plenty of things that I did in my classroom that some of my students probably thought were crazy. Most teachers I know are willing to go to extremes to get their students’ attention and help them learn.

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      3. You must have to do so much to balance education and entertainment, to keep their attention. I don’t think I could have done it!

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      4. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 3:51 pm

        I sometimes felt like an actor when I taught as there was a certain amount of showmanship. I was pretty shy in high school, so my classmates would have been shocked if they saw my act.

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  4. I very much enjoyed this post. Even though my mother was a middle school teacher for many years, I never understood the effort involved in being an effective and inspiring teacher. You and Ms. Wheeler’s students were fortunate to have such a great role model.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 1:40 pm

      Perhaps it’s because I’ve got more time on my hands now that I’m not so busy, but I feel it is my job to pass on my love for teaching and kids to the next generation of educators. Sometimes we’re not aware of the effect we’re having on others.

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  5. What a wonderful tribute to the wonderful people what gave you such an incredible and priceless gift.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 1:42 pm

      Not unlike many others, I went through a period of searching for what I wanted to do with my life. Cynthia and Nancy confirmed that I had found my calling.

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      1. Same here, I went to grad school and changed careers at 40

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  6. I loved Ms. Wheeler. I had her for 3rd grade. I will never forget her. I recall being somewhat bored with the spelling tests so after getting 100% on several to start the year (and probably becoming a nuisance when I finished them early) she told me that instead of taking the test I would be required to submit a creative story using all of the words in proper context and, of course, spelling them correctly. I loved being able to write these stories (although I shudder to think of reading them now). I will never forget the impact she made on me in such a small but caring way.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 3:04 pm

      Great story, Jared! I hope you don’t mind me sharing that memory with her. Certain people inspire us to want to be the best version of ourselves. She was one of those people for me.

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  7. A gift that’s come full-circle… priceless! ❤

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    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 3:12 pm

      I see that as one of the rewards of our post-teaching years, Bette. I know that I get great joy when I see former students doing important work. It is a reminder to me that teaching is one of those professions where you can make a difference in someone’s future. Nancy did that for me.

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      1. Well-deserved praise to Nancy, Pete! ❤

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  8. ❤ Wonderful! My kids loved the earthquake demonstration story.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 4:17 pm

      It was hilarious because it was classic Nancy. She had one objective—to teach kids. She understood one has to be creative when meeting that task.

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  9. Nancy sounds like an amazing person, friend, leader, mentor, and educator. I often wonder if people in her position (and your position as a teacher) realize the impact they make on students. I hold several of my teachers in high esteem for all they shared and taught me above and beyond what was required of them.
    The earthquake story with Nancy on the table was amazing. Your post made me smile, Pete 🙂

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  10. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 4:40 pm

    I’m glad, Mae. I’ve written about the concept of delayed rewards before. It is one of the unusual aspects of this profession. The real payoff happens years down the road when you reconnect with former students. I’m going to dinner tonight with one of them. I haven’t seen him since sixth-grade, and now he’s forty-one years old. Uh oh—looks like a potential future blog post.

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  11. What an incredible woman and educator! Thanks for introdicing her to all of us.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 8:34 pm

      I enjoy writing, but this time I especially enjoyed doing this piece. A lot of people don’t have many good things to say about their bosses, but Nancy is one of those people I respect as a person and as an educator.

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  12. what a wonderful tribute. Nancy sounds like the kind of role model we all need, whether we are children, parents, teachers, or retired. How lucky for you that you met her just as you were starting your teaching career, when her influence could be the greatest. Loved the story about earthquake safety, and I’m so happy that you have been able to reconnect withNancy through the writing group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 14, 2020 — 8:38 pm

      Maybe you’ve heard me say this before, Jim, but I once made a list of the twenty most influential people in my life. Over half of them were educators. Nancy was one of them. The timing of her influence was critical in reinforcing I was where I was supposed to be.

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      1. And I am sure your success, and those of her other students, makes Nancy feel like she has made a difference

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      2. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 8:41 am

        I put up my article on Facebook, and several people shared other memories of Nancy. She doesn’t do any type of social media, so I’m going to print out those comments to share with her at the writing group this week.

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      3. How kind of you to do that – I am sure she will love reading the comments…

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  13. Hi Pete, this is a wonderful tribute to Nancy, and thoroughly written to touch upon her many strength. I think some, not too many, people are naturally good in everything they do as a leader, mentor, model, educator and friend. I’m so glad she was on your path and became a significant part of your life and career.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 16, 2020 — 8:10 am

      We, teachers, need to stick together, Miriam. I’ll bet you connected with many of your students too, as a teacher and then principal.

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      1. I’m in touch with a few teachers and some students, Pete. I was an administrator for ten years after teaching, so I wasn’t quite connected with the students during those busy years. There was and is a lot of politics going on in the district especially on the administration level that overshadow the relationships. The administrators in the district and the principals are on one side and the teachers are on the other side. We had quite a few union/teacher protests over the years. There was no superintendent I looked up to and I only have dreadful stories to tell of their power/money struggles. That’s the sad story in a big city.

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      2. petespringerauthor September 16, 2020 — 11:02 am

        I’m sorry to hear that, Miriam. My situation was different because our district was comprised of only two schools. I did serve on the bargaining team for three years. That was my least favorite thing to do in education. Some people are cut out for that more than others.

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  14. A fantastic post Pete and it is so important to have a role model in the early years of your career…people skills are not always part of a curriculum at college and that element is vital for success.. Nancy sounds like an amazing woman and lovely that you are now part of the same writing group and can be part of her circle of influence again…x

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    1. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 9:33 am

      You are one of those mentors in the blogging world, Sally. We latch on to those people who we admire for what they’re doing for others. Please understand that my words are heartfelt. It is more than just promoting other blogs—you teach without being a know-it-all. I hope that I can pay it forward to other bloggers down the road.

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      1. Thank you so much Pete that is very motivating. When I began 7 years ago I didn’t think that I would be doing it for more than a year or two until we moved back to Ireland. It has taken on a life of its own and I feel part of an amazing community that generously supports each other. x

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  15. What an outstanding tribute to a teacher! You were lucky to have her as your mentor. Her stories are the stuff of understanding and giving and heart. I like her words, that the greatest gift is the gift of yourself. Have I ever jumped up on a table in front of children? I’m proud to say I have! Please tell Nancy that she is STILL inspiring teachers…like me.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 9:37 am

      How did I know that you might be part of the table jumping crew, Jennie? Teachers can spot heart from a mile away, and you have no shortage of that. I’m going to print these comments off and share them with Nancy because I know she will enjoy reading them.

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      1. Of course you knew I’d be table jumping! 🙂 Yes, teachers (well, good ones) can spot heart a mile away. Thank you, Pete. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when you give these comments to Nancy. Will you ask her for me if she was familiar with The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease? When you talked about a mentor, I was stumped. I never had a good, strong mentor. His book was my ‘early mentor’, and of course the rest is history.

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      2. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 7:32 pm

        I will do that, Jennie. You may not have had a mentor, but you are creating your own legacy. I had a delightful dinner last night with one of my former students. He is forty-one-years old now, and it was so much fun to reconnect after all these years. I taught him in 6th grade, and he reminded me that we connected last when he was in junior high.

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      3. I just love these stories! They are the heart and soul of teaching. Thank you for passing along my words to Nancy. It is interesting that I didn’t have a mentor, I gobbled up all the wonderful things I saw fellow teachers doing, and forged on.

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  16. You are both the richer for having touched each other’s lives in such significant ways!

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    1. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 9:41 am

      You have encapsulated my feelings in this one sentence, Laura. If more people looked out for one another, the world would be a far happier place.

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  17. How fortunate for you, Pete, that you had those 2 role models to learn from when you were a young teacher.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 9:43 am

      Absolutely! I think the same is true in most other professions. When we see someone doing a job well, it gives us an example to strive for.

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  18. Some people have a natural gift. It sounds as though these two fine teachers made a lasting impact on many. I wish every child had a role model like this in their lives ❤

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    1. petespringerauthor September 15, 2020 — 9:14 pm

      Most assuredly, Jacquie. It was an honor to watch and learn from these special people in my life. I’m just writing what many others have felt for decades. It’s frustrating when people in government make educational decisions without talking to those on the front line who understand what kids most need to learn.

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  19. What a wonderful testimony to a talented mentor and friend!

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    1. petespringerauthor September 16, 2020 — 10:54 am

      We learn best by doing, but having that support and wisdom to fall back on is sure comforting to someone starting out.

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  20. Nancy sounds like an amazing teacher, friend, and human being. How fortunate you are to have had someone like her at the beginning of your career.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 16, 2020 — 10:59 am

      I think back to my first year out of college and starting my teaching career. I was so green. That’s why it was so vital for me to lean on others who had far more experience.

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      1. I think everyone right out of college is in that same green boat. Unfortunately, not everyone has the good fortune to have such a wonderful experience with a mentor. You were blessed!

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  21. This was a wonderful tribute to several remarkable teachers, but the best part is that you’re now in a writing group with Nancy!!

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    1. petespringerauthor September 16, 2020 — 6:49 pm

      I know—that’s pretty awesome. Things have come full circle. I’m a big sap for happy endings. Thanks for dropping by, Liz.

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      1. You’re welcome, Pete. I’m a big sap for happy endings myself!

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  22. I love it when something comes full circle what a wonderful teacher and mentor you had, Pete…The earthquake tutorial just made me smile particularly as I could picture the disapproving man’s face…A really heartwarming post 🙂 x

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    1. petespringerauthor September 17, 2020 — 9:46 am

      Right! 😊 I would have liked to crawl into his head for just a moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. What a lovely post, Pete. I’m always impressed by how generously you pay tribute to those who were influential in your career. Thanks for the intro to Nancy, a wonderful person and educator. 🙂

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    1. petespringerauthor September 17, 2020 — 1:28 pm

      It is my way of letting those special people in my life know how much I appreciate them. Simply saying thank you doesn’t seem enough. I believe that the best way to pay homage to those who have come before us is to try and exemplify their teachings through our actions.

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  24. Some people see teaching as a job and follow the rules and requirements to the letter (if they can). Others, like Nancy, are following a vocation that inspires those who are touched by their skills, understanding and humour. This is a wonderful tribute to Nancy and, by virtue of your own empathy and respect, shows that you were moulded out of the same material. Anyone who can reach out and make a positive difference to a child’s life is a hero in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 17, 2020 — 1:32 pm

      We’re on the same page, Alex. Many see heroism as saving someone from a burning building. While my intention is not to knock those types of deeds, the real heroes are the ones who inspire those in dire situations to change for the better.

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  25. What an important post, Pete. Like mine a few weeks ago celebrating the “unsung” nursing heroes, teachers and principles may be the most unsung of the unsung. This is a beautiful tribute to an amazing educator. I’m on the sidelines now watching the work (and I mean WORK) and stress my daughter (6th grade science teacher) and her colleagues and other friends’ teacher friends are going through now as they maneuver around teaching virtually and hybrid (many times AT THE SAME TIME) and my heart twists for them. They are Heroes in my book.

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    1. petespringerauthor September 17, 2020 — 4:42 pm

      One of the things I’ve noticed about teaching (pre-COVID) was how much harder the job keeps getting. With experience, most jobs get easier over time. Teachers have more and more angry kids with severe emotional and academic issues. In the back of one’s mind, you have to consider some child or angry parent will show up with a weapon. Those are things I never thought about much when I was teaching. Throw in the virus, and teachers, such as your daughter, are asked to perform miracles. Teaching special education or young children by Zoom while also meeting the needs of some who may attend in-school service? I feel for them as well as the parents and students who don’t learn well this way. I’m not advocating for students to suddenly all return to school. I’m merely acknowledging the enormity of the task.

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      1. Yes, yes – everything you say. A couple of years ago my daughter had to teach her classes how to prepare for an armed intruder, and she was even roughed up by a police officer (who got a little too caught up in the “act like it’s real” scenario). Could you imagine this a decade ago? On the other hand, my daughter and the teachers she works with love their job …. because of their students.

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  26. This is a lovely post, Pete. It is wonderful to know there are such good and dedicated teachers out there. I only remember one teacher that made any sort of impression on me. Her name was Sister Agatha and she was my Grade 7 teacher when I attended a convent in the Western Cape for two years. She gave me all sorts of amazing books to read and I’ve never forgotten them. I re-bought them all as an adult and have them in my prized book cupboard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 18, 2020 — 12:40 pm

      It makes me sad that you didn’t have more teachers who positively impacted you, Robbie. I had some excellent teachers and some mediocre ones. There are years where I don’t have any memories (good or bad). I’m not sure if that says more about those teachers or a guy with a failing memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. I love those methods that work–like the Madeleine Hunter method you described. I did a series on my teacher blog about methodologies. I might have to add this one to it.

    How wonderful to start your teaching with such a strong, trusted role model. I can see why you loved teaching all the way to your retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 19, 2020 — 8:16 am

      It’s crucial for anyone starting out to have people to fall back on for their expertise and support.

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  28. Did you know that I went to 14 different schools, Pete? I was a quiet girl and always had my nose in a book. Sister Agatha reached out to me with a book key so she got entry. The others may not have had the time to get to know me as I was never in one school for very long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 19, 2020 — 8:13 am

      No, I didn’t know that. That had to be hard, Robbie. Thank goodness you found solace in books. What accounted for you switching schools so much? I taught children from migrant worker families who had similar experiences. About the time the children were starting to bond with a class, they would move on without any type of closure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We moved around a lot because of my father’s job. It settled down later so my younger sisters didn’t have to move so much. It had the benefit of making me a good, if slightly superficial, socialiser. I never developed any deep and meaningful female friendships at school. My sisters went to their schools for longer periods and two of them have very strong female friendships from their school years.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. What a fabulous read Pete and to think you are now in a writers group with Nancy!! Thanks for sharing with us for #ShoutoutSaturday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 19, 2020 — 6:47 pm

      It has been quite the journey. I feel like I’m just getting started with this writing thing. Thanks for the opportunity to share on your blog, Debbie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure Pete, it’s great having you join in. I’m just a small cog in the big blogging wheel but I always appreciate the ability to share the work of others and get that community feel happening.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. How beautiful to hear about Nancy, Pete – the two of you are both such inspirations! Toni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 21, 2020 — 8:22 am

      I think we need to find inspiration where we can, but as a young teacher, it was comforting to know that I had somebody who would always be in my corner.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. A most beautiful tribute Pete and certainly a gift that keeps giving. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 21, 2020 — 10:58 pm

      I’ve been blessed with good role models, Debby. Nancy is one of those people who inspires many.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. What an amazing person Nancy is! Thank you for sharing how she made such a positive impact on all of the lives around her, including yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor September 29, 2020 — 11:22 am

      Nancy is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. She could have cared less about me writing this piece because she is never one to bring attention to herself. It did make me feel good to hear from her daughter and one of her grandchildren who appreciated me writing the article.

      Liked by 1 person

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