Favorite Teachers: Miss Goettinger

It’s teacher appreciation week in most of the United States, and since I think a great deal about the teachers I have had over the years, I decided to try to write about some of them this week. By no means is this a comprehensive list. But I continue my posts with one of the ones who had made an impact on my life.

Before I get to my teacher for today’s post, I want to point out, once more, that when I was in seventh grade, I could not hand-write well. I could form my thoughts beautifully, but my actual handwriting skills amounted mostly to scribbles and chicken scratch. My story telling skills were already forming, having been encouraged long before. But the actual way I wrote, as my mother would often remind me, was atrocious. I often wrote so fast because I was trying to get the words in my head down on paper. Sometimes, even I could not read my own writing.

Even still, I have one teacher that comes to mind who remembered that even though I couldn’t write well, my ability to form thoughts into beautiful sentences was still there. She was a huge influence on my life. And now, I will get to that story.

Miss Goettinger, known to all of her students as Miss G, was a second-career teacher. She had a wonderful career as a newspaper reporter before deciding to go into teaching just a few years before I had her in the early 1990s. She often interspersed her lessons with tales of her reporting days, using real life examples to help cement some of the skills in my young mind.

Miss G taught my CORE class, which was a two-period class in which seventh graders at my California middle school were taught both Language Arts and Social Studies skills at the same time. As a result, she modeled both writing skills and critical thinking skills to her classes as well as other things pertinent to life, language arts and social studies. And I absorbed a great deal of what she taught.

She was one of the teachers to encourage me to keep writing, even when I was getting push back from others about my “great American novels” that went no where. She loved that I was such a bookworm and often recommended books to me. Because my handwriting was terrible, she sometimes could not decipher it and would call me up to her desk to read my work to her or come to my desk and ask me. But she also would declare my thoughts on certain subjects in Social Studies and Language Arts were “brilliant” and “out of the box”.

She also encouraged me to write neater…. and I learned to practice that. Today, I can not only out words to paper beautifully, but also can write legibly in both print and in cursive because I had her gentle encouragement in my mind.

Miss G. taught the class that stereotypes hurt. After all, she pointed out, her two top students in that particular class were both female and both blond, breaking the “dumb blonde” stereotype. She expected the best from all of her students and helped to achieve that.

And like Mr. Madrid, who I already posted about, she helped me learn that I enjoyed history and actually was probably the first teacher to start that spark. But she also encouraged my creative writing skills as well. She wasn’t the first teacher to tell me that if I kept writing, I could be published, but she was one of the loudest in my memories of school.

I was fortunate enough to be able to work with her again when I was in college for the teaching practicum I had to take for my major, shadowing her and even teaching a few lessons. She praised my work ethic and knew I was going to go far, for she could see my eloquence even at twelve years old.

I am still friends with Miss G and have called her by her first name now for twenty years (since that practicum). She is proud of the fact that I do indeed still write and do indeed still indulge my love of history. And I am still proud to call her my teacher, some twenty eight years after having her as a teacher.

The world needs teachers. They need the type of people who come along and help others out. They are the ones who help encourage children to seek out their dreams.

Teachers, stay magical. Keep writing your stories. I am glad I had many who helped write mine.

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And as always, #writeyourownstory

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