In elementary school, my fourth grade teacher was Mr. Martin. He was an amazing artist. He taught us to draw people and to this day, I still draw people the way he showed us. Mr. Martin also hand painted blown out egg shells and make ornaments out of them. One of my prize possessions to this day is the egg I won in his class. I can also still remember some of the songs he taught us to help remember multipliers. "Up on the housetop, click, click, click, 12, 24 and 36. . ." I got chicken pox that year from my younger brother. They showed up Friday the 13th and the next week was spring break, talk about a bummer. Toward the end of the week when I was recovering, Mr. Martin actually came over to my house and gave me a hand-drawn card he had made just for me. Mr. Martin joined the peace corps after my class. I'm not sure if that says something about my class or is just a reflection of the giving person he is. He would send me and my family cassette tapes, entertaining us with his adventures. Since that time, he has continued to travel the world and has painted murals in several countries. You may have even seen some of his art in clip art form. I will never forget the time someone at my work had come across it and used it in a presentation. I knew instantly who had drawn it. I still follow his adventures through the posts on his Facebook page.
Back in my day it was called junior high and was seventh through ninth grade. I have an 2 brothers. My older brother is 4 years ahead of me, blazing the trail as he would like to claim. When he was in junior high, he had Mrs. Banks for unified studies - what they called English and History in seventh grade. She was a great teacher and I was so excited when I found out she would be my teacher as well. She taught us to be bucket fillers to one another. She genuinely cared about each of her students. After I was a little older and no longer in her class, she asked me to babysit her children from time to time. Her husband was a teacher as well. I remember looking around their house and thinking, "if this is what 2 teacher's salaries can get, then maybe that is what I want to do when I grow up." Unfortunately, that isn't really the case anymore. There were several of us who have kept in touch with Mrs. Banks. She and her husband have attended many of our weddings.
In high school, everyone loved Mr. Barnes who taught college prep biology. My senior he pioneered a genetics class. We were doing the same type of DNA testing that was being used in the OJ trial happening at that same time period. Mr. Barnes was no nonsense, but he had the ability to make kids want to behave. We didn't want to miss his class. Many of the girl's had a crush on him, despite the fact that he had taught some of our parents when they were in high school. I still have my notes from his classes. Mr. Barnes hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner for all of his former students every year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at the high school. He would cook the turkey and we just needed to bring the rest. Every year there would be dozens of kids that showed up just for a chance to talk to Mr. Barnes again. Unfortunately, cancer took him too early. The number of former students who showed up for his funeral was a testament to the impact he had.