Sunday, May 15, 2005

Teachers Worth Remembering...

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #59: Teachers Worth Remembering...
We've all had teachers who have made a difference in our lives.  Tell us about one of yours.  It can be a teacher from any level of education, from kindergarten to graduate school.
Mrs. Donsky, my high school German and English teacher...
My freshman year in high school, I chose German as my foreign language because I had just come back to the States after living in Germany for three years, and I already knew the language.  It didn't occur to me to take something else! 
It didn't take long for Mrs. D to single me out...I don't know what she saw in me!  Maybe it was the German connection...
I had her for a second year in German...and also a third and a fourth year of German (no one else took four years of a language!).  She made me go to foreign language competitions all the time...and win! 
She also taught honors senior English, and expected me to be in her class, even though I wasn't in the honors program.  Explaining that little glitch to her didn't help.  I had to go to my school counselor and humbly request entrance...and of course, I got in, based on Mrs. D's request and also my perfect ACT score in English (somehow Mrs. D had found about that).
She made us memorize the prologue to Canterbury Tales, in the original Middle English.  She made us memorize Hamlet's 'To be or not to be' speech, and Macbeth's 'Tomorrow' speech.  I still have all those speeches rattling around in my head!
She went crazy on my English papers, correcting my grammar...if I ever commit the unforgiveable sin of a tense shift, please God don't let it get back to her!
I was also her teacher's aide my senior year...that last year of high school I think I spent more time with her than a lot of my family!  She was so brilliant...she knew not only German and Spanish, but also less common languages like Russian and Hebrew and Yiddish.  With a mind like that, why was she teaching at the same high school that she had graduated from, even though it was considered the best high school in the state?  Who knows, but I was so grateful...
She was the only Jewish person I had ever known until then...she was kosher, she taught me all about what she could and could not eat, and the holidays when she wouldn't be at school...she was the only diabetic person I had ever known until then...sometimes her blood sugar would go all haywire during class and she would have 'episodes'...start not making one would know what to do...except me, I had learned what to do...cookie trips to the cafeteria...
I had always been the underachiever...that's why even though I was at the best school in the state (a magnet school, you had to apply to get in and keep up the grades to stay in), I was doing just what I needed to stay there...but she wouldn't let me continue to do that.  She created high expectations for me and expected me to meet them.  And because I adored and admired her so...I did!
Thank you so much, Mrs. D...
Picture from Hometown  
Mrs. Donsky and me at my high school graduation, June 1991


  1. Now that was a great teacher!!

  2. Ah...great picture!  She sounds wonderful!

  3. Very sweet.