Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wednesday Factoid: Favorite Teacher

Today's Wednesday Factoid is . . . Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?

This is a tough question because I actually didn't care for most of my teachers. 

I liked my chorus class a lot and had a good time, but I actually had a nearly antagonistic relationship with the teacher right from the beginning. I'd transferred to the school from a school where I'd received the highest All-State scores in my grade, been pushed up to the highest choral group halfway through the year after starting as a beginner, and auditioned/been accepted for the elite show choir, only to find that I was changing schools, and yet this new teacher insisted that sophomores were categorically required to start in beginning choir. He did not like that I had a letter of recommendation from my previous teacher and that I protested having to be in beginner's choir, refused to give me any kind of test, treated me like I must be a prima donna, and even refused to offer me All-State audition opportunities that he offered the advanced classes because they just don't do that in beginner's choir. He didn't seem to care that I'd not only auditioned but WAS CHOSEN the previous year at my old school. (I had to go over his head to be able to audition, and yeah, I got in. Every year.) So . . . yeah, his constant attempts to question/deny my accomplishments and unrelated leading of prayers in front of the class at a non-religious school very much rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the class but didn't like him.

I also liked one of my advanced English classes, but my teacher who always glowingly praised my critical essays and used them as examples for the class was unwilling to listen to me about an opportunity to participate in a creative project for writing fiction, and refused to recommend me or review my application materials because he had already decided I was good at writing essays and wanted me to do that. He was also sexist sometimes and made elitist statements, frequently making condescending comments about people with intellectual disabilities or making fun of the deaf kids by imitating how some of them talked. It was horrendous. I aced his class and got one of the only perfect scores in the school at the end of the year, but I didn't like him as a teacher.

So weirdly enough, my favorite teacher was probably a guy whose class I sucked at and whose subject I did not enjoy. It's Mr. Laundy, my teacher for AP American History.

Mr. Laundy with my pal Ammy

I never did particularly well in his class and I bombed the AP exam--really was never any good at history. But this guy was a lot of fun. He was laid back and kind of strange, and he'd tell these rambling stories about history as if he'd been there for the events. (Some people would joke that he had been, as he was a pretty old dude, and retired shortly after I graduated.) One thing I appreciated about him was that he didn't avoid "inappropriate" stories just because we were teens, but didn't seem to be telling them just for shock value or to make us think he was cool. He'd talk about people getting drunk, or about when he used to chew tar from the road when it got soft, or make oblique references to sex. He liked Animaniacs because of its educational songs, and liked one of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants (though his favorite band was CCR). You could get him to sing They Might Be Giants songs when he was in the mood. Even "Minimum Wage." (Which is just a quick buildup of drums and the vocalist hollering "MINIMUM WAAAAAGE! HEEYAH!" with a whip crack.)

And he wore two different colored socks sometimes, or funky argyle socks, or whatever. You could ask him to show you his socks. He'd do it.

So I liked him for his willingness to be a goofball with us, for being passionate about his subject (even though I wasn't), and for treating high school students like people.

Yay Laundy.

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