Sunday, January 22, 2012

English Teachers

Mrs. Jullian passed away on Friday. My friend from Georgia brought it to my attention. She was our English teacher in seventh grade, as well as creative writing teacher when we were seniors.  I feel I learned more about her today reading the obituary, than I knew at the time I saw her every day. She didn't share much of her personal life with us.
A petite woman, she could handle a class of rambunctious seventh graders and stare down the farm boys as my sister remembered. I thought I was a good writer by twelfth grade, thanks to the teachers before, Mr. Shaffer, a social studies teacher, picked apart my essays in tenth grade. Mr. Yarian encouraged me in eleventh. My first assignment with Mrs. Jullian came back with the red marks all over it. She picked out the laziness of a senior. An assignment that has lasted me most of my life is daily journaling. She wouldn't actually read them, if we marked them as private. She wanted us to get into the habit of writing every day.
I matured as a writer during that year. I think by the end of the year, she smiled at our offerings. I appreciated her scrutiny, as even at seventeen I desired to be a writer.
I think the tough English teachers bring out the best in us. I didn't have Mr. Munnel, only knew him as a director. He had a tough reputation in the classroom, yet was loved by the students. Mrs. Peterson, another that I didn't have, yet I heard students say they learned so much about English, writing by her strictness.
Mr. Yarian did encourage us so much. Still, if you did not tow the line, he toughened the class room. I cherish the memory of him dancing to the bag pipes when Bill Berlin played his in class one day. The music and frolicking spilled into the hall way. I felt we were following the leprechaun, Mr. Yarian. He believed in my writing back in journalism class and I hold on to those words to this day.  He shared his poems published for Penn State with me.
Mrs. Jullian, Mr. Yarian and Mr. Munnell have all passed away, ravages of cancer. Teachers, though, continue to live on to inspire their students, pour into their lives and shape our future. Thank you for those who do more than their jobs. Thirty years later, maybe a former student will blog about you with great fondness and gratitude.
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