Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Teacher Thanking and Me-he-HEM-RIES...

Maybe it is only because it is the first testing season of the year (there are five here in Japan, conveniently every two months or so), I don't know-- I just seem to be in a reminiscent mood about my own school days. So, I will continue my earlier writing where I thanked some of the teachers I had. Today I'll write about THE DARK AGES (more commonly known as "Junior High School"!). Oh, and before I go on, I DID remember that the dog which so kindly scarfed up my left overs in the 4th grade was named Cuddles! I have the feeling it was David Denny's dog that just sort of followed him to school one day though it was against the rules...Mrs. Duffy had more sympathy for that dog that us students!

Onward, ever onward. My introduction to "Canyon Park Junior High" began with one Donald Halazon. He was my homeroom teacher, my social studies teacher, my language arts teacher (I think), and later the man I T.A'ed for in 9th grade. Is T.A. a verb?! His first words to me were "Hansen?! Jennifer? Uh...are you by any chance related to Margaret and Amy?!" Labeled! The first day! Still, it turned out all right. He was essentially a very fair man who loved teaching. Loving his work did not stop him from making his favorite quote every other day though: "Do you know that teachers earn LESS than GARBAGE MEN?!" When he wasn't teaching or ranting, chances were you could find him imitating Donald Duck. He not only was head of the "Traffic Safety" club (?! We helped guide cars into parking spots for school events! I can't believe it but it was actually a cool club at the time!!), he introduced the people in that club to Greek food. He told us his name was actually Halazonetheopolis, or something close to that. He married a lovely woman who had a younger sister not much older than us. I thought at the time that she had enough hair for three people. I hope they are still happy and healthy together. Thank you, Mr. Halazon.

Other Junior High teachers: Mrs. Patricia Legget, who had great red hair, a constant smile, and knew how to teach math despite the near-perfect inattention of her charges. Priscilla Hickey (I SWEAR I am not making these names up!!), P.E. teach and gymnastics coach extraordinaire, all 4.5 feet of her! Barbara Brodniak, another P.E. teacher/coach who I have thanked many times for coaching me in basketball and "life" in general. We went to see the Sonics play at the Key Arena and that was my first professional sporting event of any kind. Mr. Estes, an English teacher and counselor that, by some magic, actually got through to a lot of junior high students. Mrs. Kunkle, the strict but elderly and forgetful English teacher who we fooled by putting an afro wig on Mike Battista and telling her a new "girl" called "Michelle" had joined the class. "Michelle" had her head down on her desk and started "crying"...causing Mrs. Kunkle to try to figure out how to deal with a crying new girl delicately. We got a TON of homework that day when she finally realized she had been had! It was worth it. Mrs. Peck, the art teacher, with thick black hair nearly down to her knees. Ms. Cohee, English/French/Drama/Dance teacher and cheer leading to spare and sincere to the end. We loved her and were lucky enough to attend her beautiful wedding to Dennis. Oh! Mr. Ted Freemantle, who WAS as cool as his name sounds! He was like a modern-day Shakespeare, physically: tall, balding on top but longish black hair curling under on the sides and a beard and moustache too. He used to wear what can only be called "smocks" with V-necks and geometric designs on them. And his PENDANTS! He had a few- all large and all very hippy-cool. He would play Cat Stevens for us as we wrote. He was an English teacher. We wrote a lot and I can still sing all of the lyrics to most Cat Stevens songs!

Let's see....digging a little further in to the memories...who can forget Lwanga Lwanga! I didn't even HAVE him as a math teacher, but I had enough interactions with him (YOU! No run! WALK!) that I can never forget him. He was from somewhere in Africa, had a thick accent, an unsmiling face (most of the time), and a talent for scaring kids straight. He made my brother WALK home once to retrieve the math book he had forgotten. We lived 5 miles from the school! Ms. Wright, a cool art teacher. Mrs. Shoemeyer, a slightly ditsy home-ec teacher who had a co-hort called Ms. Heinzen. She taught us sewing, supposedly. A friend and I, inspired by an outfit she wore to school, gave her a prank call and sang "She wore BLUE VELVET!" to her at the tops of our lungs. I refuse to admit exactly how many times we did this. I don't think she ever suspected us because she took us to lunch at the Ranch Drive in at the end of the school year! Thank you, Junior High School Teachers, one and all. I know my list is not finished yet, but my energy is. For those of you tired of reading about these long ago memories, well, I will try to mix it up a little for a while.
P.S. The pic included in this post is an original drawing of yours truly from a friend in my local pub...I think it is a dead ringer!

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