Teachers we remember

On the occasion of Nevada Day, Geoff Duncan’s Percolating blog pays tribute to his 6th and 7th grade teacher, Mr. Gandalfo, who made state history unforgettable:

He once marched a class of us through seven feet of snow into a meadow in the Sierras; when we got to the middle, he stopped, turned, and said to the exhausted kids, “So that wasn’t easy, was it? When the Donner Party was in this field, the snow was twenty-two feet high. Think about that.” I still do, Mr. G.

This brought back fond memories of Mr. Kitchen, who taught American History at my high school in Northern Virginia. Mr. Kitchen focused so intently on the positive, and the interesting, that even the slackers got caught up in his lectures and disrupters realized they were being ignored (or glared at by the other students). One year Mr. Kitchen got stuck team-teaching with one of the most difficult and unpopular teachers in the school, and never once indicated that he was in any way unhappy about it — something that, in retrospect, I find amazing.

I came away with a fairly decent understanding of American history, and an appreciation for the amount of effort and talent that goes into great teaching. There were no hikes through seven-foot snowdrifts in Northern Virginia, but Mr. Kitchen did show us a highly effective technique for digging yourself out when things got deep. It involved a hieroglyph that looked like a small shovel. He drew it in margin of a student paper wherever he detected a pile of …bullshit.

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