Gail Pelsnik! I had her in 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades. I don’t know how I got lucky enough to get her so many years in a row. She followed me from junior high to high school and she was a hoot. On the first day of class, she had her rules written on the board and they were: no laughing, keep your head down, and do your work. Then at the very bottom, it said, “I don’t like kids.” It broke the ice and got everyone laughing. She was great because she realized that we were going to be kids and she worked with that. It was easier to learn in her class because she tailored her teaching to the individual personalities.
I had a 5th grade teacher named Mr. Gavinsky. He taught history and was just one of those really nice teachers. His class wasn’t hard, but maybe that’s because I was interested in history. I do know that he furthered my love of history. That’s something I carried into college and beyond.
The teacher that influenced my life the most was undoubtedly my mom, Linda Heacock. I was dyslexic and she was a dyslexia therapist. If it weren’t for her and the dedication and commitment she showed to me, I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful academically.
The teacher that stands out to me as going above and beyond was Mr. Filippi. I was in the hospital with a blood clot that had developed immobility due to a cast on my leg, and he would come to the hospital every day to tell me what they did in class and bring me my assignments so I wouldn’t fall behind. My parents and I couldn’t believe that a teacher could be that concerned with a student. So, I guess, the impact wasn’t necessarily academic, it was more of a life lesson, taking that extra step and going the extra mile for people.
Mr. Valencia was my 6th grade teacher. Back then, you had the same teacher for every class. He made learning so much fun! I had just moved to Seattle – I moved three times that year – and he made me feel comfortable. He even took us camping! That was back when teachers could take students camping. Oh, and he had a glass eye that he would pop out! I loved his outlook. That was when school became fun for me.
Mr. Jokela was my history teacher. He saw the world differently than anyone I had ever met before. His classes were difficult, but you could tell that he truly cared about the success of his students. I appreciated that he gave us the freedom to ask questions, engage in debates, and expand our knowledge base. Those skills served me well in college, and to this day, I thoroughly enjoy asking questions and participating in open debates.
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