Wednesday, August 21, 2019
August 21, 2019: Cville Influences: Four More Public School Teachers
[For this year’s annual post-Charlottesville-trip series, I wanted to share tributes to various folks who were important influences during my Cville years. Leading up to a special weekend post on a peer of mine who’s aiming to become a Cville influence in 2019!]
Before I move on to two other influential figures, four more teachers who made my experience in the Cville Public Schools so much better:
1) Mr. Hickerson and Bruce: My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Alan Hickerson, runs a very close second to Monday’s subject, Mr. Heartwell, as the most inspiring and impressive teacher of my pre-college years. The whole of that year with him was hugely meaningful for me, but if I had to highlight one moment, it’d be a couple classes when he had us bring in and analyze songs of our choosing. My choice was Bruce’s “The River,” then and now probably my favorite single song of Bruce’s (although “American Skin (41 Shots)” always gives it a run for its money), and the resulting discussion, and especially my attempt to articulate why I read the end of the song (and thus its whole arc and story and meaning) in the way that I did, was a transformative moment for me for sure.
2) Ms. Vandever, Ms. Wilroy, and Pop Quiz: I think it’s fair to say that feeling like a true part of a community can be tough for any high school student, and that it’s tougher still for those (like us nerds) who are decidedly uncool. Starting in my sophomore year of high school, I was very fortunate to find precisely such a nerdy community in our school’s Pop Quiz team, run by two wonderful English teachers, Ms. Patricia Vandever and Ms. Ivy Wilroy (now Caravati). I loved my teammates, our many competitions and trips (as far as Duke University and Washington, DC, among others), and, yes, our not-infrequent victories. But a great deal of what made Pop Quiz so special was the commitment and effort put in, and the atmosphere created, by these two teachers who gave so freely of their time and energy. To this day a number of my best childhood memories came from this community that they created.
3) Ms. Perkins and Tutoring: In my senior year of high school, I was one of five students who were eligible for and chose to take a class in Multivariable Calculus. Because it was such a small cohort, our young and very enthusiastic and cool (in the best sense) teacher, Ms. Terri Perkins, made the class very much about our individual identities and perspectives, including a creative assignment for which I made a Choose Your Own Adventure math book that I still remember very fondly. But by far the most meaningful feature was a unit in which each of us worked with one student from a more remedial math class to help him or her pass a standardized test that they needed in order to move to their next year’s class; I know I had tutored before in one context or another, but I remember those couple of weeks, and even particular choices of mine (that did work, that didn’t) and exchanges between us, much more fully and specifically. My tutoree passed, and I don’t think I had a prouder or happier moment in high school.
Next Cville influence tomorrow,
PS. Influential people you’d highlight?