Monday, October 20, 2008

The Green and Gold

As a teacher I often think of the impact I have on my students. How will they remember me? What will they remember about the times they spent with me? Will they remember me at all?

I have the teachers that left their impacts. My second grade teacher I'll never forget because we, as a class, made her cry due to a poor performance at a school wide Stations of the Cross service.

My first grade teacher still keeps in touch with me through a teacher that I work with. She was one of the kindest nuns I knew.

My third grade teacher? We sent her into retirement. But she loved each and every one of us dearly. And made sure we knew it.

My sixth grade teacher got me in so much trouble at home that I had to write a letter apologizing for me behavior. I still maintain, to this day, that I did not talk or cause problems NEARLY as much as she claimed. Seriously.

My Senior year English teacher. Well, now, she's the one that got me to love real literature. She is THE teacher. The one I would thank if they shoved a video camera in my face on the street and asked me about that one teacher that had an impact. She had the ability to laugh with us and teach us at the same time. She was, is, strong and kind. She was scary, yet completely approachable.

Today is not about any of them.

Yesterday, the former Athletic Director and gym teacher from my high school succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer. She fought the good fight, as so many do. She saw Europe. She spent time with her family. She lived. And then she died.

I have fond memories of Fetrow. I also have not so fond memories of her. She could be a total B and she could be your very best friend. Most times it was the perfect balance.

She constantly wore these kelly green sweaters with yellow turtlenecks. Those were our school colors and if ever there was a proponent of our school it was Fetrow. She lived and breathed what we learned and stood for. And did it in green and "gold".

We made fun of her for that ensemble. She knew it. Most times she laughed right along with us.

She was the only person I knew that would order the Fish Sandwich at McDonald's- with extra Tartar Sauce!! Even now, as I laugh about it, I am dry heaving at the thought and memory of the smell of that sandwich.

She would talk of her children, endlessly. Share their travels and lives with us. She loved them completely and totally. She loved us, as her students, completely and totally. She shared with us her weekends. She spent endless hours at school. At sporting events. At other schools. At meetings. At the pub.

For those of us who were athletes she was our biggest supporter and sometimes our biggest enemy.

She went to bat for me. She stood up for me. I was a freshman. I was not doing well academically. Actually I was sucking wind. But I was doing well enough that I could still play basketball. I was a starter on junior varsity and a swing up to varsity on a regular basis. I was being groomed. The principal pulled me aside one day after class. That day would be my last game for at least two weeks. I was on academic probation because of my grades. (PS-the principal HATED me. Literally. Thought I was worthless.)

I informed the AD, Fetrow, that I was done for at least two weeks. No more practices or games. She did a little investigating. Apparently, there were girls on the team doing far worse than I was. They were allowed to play. There was no probation for them. Fetrow saved me.

I was back on the court in a week. I was back in practices. But, I was also in study hall. I was watched. My grades were coming up or she would take me off the team. She went to bat for me. It's what she did. It's why she was there.

Later that year when my parents went to surprise me with a jacket for basketball she made sure Varsity made it on the back rather than junior varsity. She built me up so that I would make it. She was disappointed when I allowed fear to overcome me and I left basketball.

Two years later when I "beat up" another school's mascot she stood up for me again. She defended me as the mascot and encouraged me. She commended my school spirit. She laughed and made sure I always had the equipment I needed.

The last time I saw Fetrow I was pregnant. She was driving around in golf cart on campus. Now that I think about it, it was probably just a short time after that when she received her initial diagnosis. She was wearing her green and gold. She was busy at a soccer game and a tennis match. But she stopped. We talked. She was excited that I was having a baby. She was genuine. She asked if I was playing any sports or anything like that. I laughed, looked at my protruding belly, and said 'not right now'.

That was it.

Fetrow wasn't the teacher that had the greatest impact on me. But the impact she had was important and memorable. And I will never forget the green and gold. Her green and gold.


ConverseMomma said...

I have to beleive I, too, will make an impact. If not, I could not leave the toddlers clutching the doorframe each day. I do also wonder what they will say about my clothes-yikes!

Sandi said...

Pancreatic cancer sucks.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

I'm sorry. Sending hugs!

Kimmylyn said...

What a beautiful post for your Snr Yr teacher.. I am sorry for your loss.. Hugs..

A Buns Life said...

I still have one teacher from high school that I am in contact with on a regular basis. She is the reason that I went into science. She is the reason that I survived my high school years (I had a pretty rough home life) and she is now my surrogate mother. I know you can't "save" every child nor can you impact every child....but the few that you touch in such a strong way has to what makes your bad days worth it. I honestly wonder where I would be today if it weren't for my special teacher, or if I would even still be here.

Kate said...

That was a really nice remembrance.

Momo Fali said...

Aw! This makes me want to write "The teacher" and tell him how much he impacted my life. Saved my life, really.

Thank you, Fetrow for the inspiration.

crazymumma said...

My elder is tryiong out for the basketball team. Grade six.

it sounds like she had your back. And I am sure she would like being so well remembered.

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