A Bouquet of Newly Sharpened Pencils

A switch was flipped on September 1st. The mornings turned cool and crisp, the smell of browning leaves filled the air, and it became that time of year when New York cyber-lovers offer to send bouquets of newly sharpened pencils. My brain clicked from medieval fantasy plots to high school plots. And, just in time, I got Mr. Terupt Falls Again from the library and have been happily devouring it.

It took about ten pages of Because of Mr. Terupt for Mr. Terupt to become one of my favorite fictional teachers of all time. I laughed through the first half of the book and cried through the second half. I love each of the seven students and their stories, and I love the way Mr. Terupt crafts them from children into young adults.

And I also like to imagine that that the the author’s name (Rob Buyea) is pronounced boo-yah, although his website tells me otherwise.

So what about you, my dear readers? Who are some of your favorite fictional teachers?

Mrs. Grosk

I just finished two very different books with one thing in common: each protagonist had that amazing teacher, the one out of dozens that you will never forget.

In Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (Matthew Dicks), Budo, Max’s imaginary friend, must help Max learn to take care of himself during one of the scariest times of Max’s life. Budo’s interactions with other characters, both real and imaginary, are intriguing and insightful; but the person Budo loves the most, outside of Max of course, is Mrs. Grosk.

Budo knows that Mrs. Grosk doesn’t “play teacher” like some of the other teachers. Mrs. Grosk is a teacher through and through. She puts on a gruff front, but there’s no hiding the fact that she loves every one of her kids, from the star student to the troublemaker. When she reads aloud, the entire class falls silent to listen to the truths her voice carries to their hearts.

My Mrs. Grosk came around in fifth grade. Her name was Ms. Stevens, and there was something about her short-cropped gray hair and her sharp eyes that told you she was not to be crossed. The first day of school, she told us that she would string us up by the toes in her closet if we gave her any trouble. She reigned over her classroom with a quick wit and a firm hand, and I’m pretty sure everyone was a little afraid of her; but somehow, we all loved her far more than we feared her. She was frank and funny and talked about things other teachers skirted around.

Ms. Stevens was determined to see that her students left her class more cultured than we had come, and that is how I was introduced to the Kingston Trio and Tom Dooley. I couldn’t believe that a teacher was letting us listen to a song about a man who was going to be hanged! But she wasn’t satisfied to just listen to the music. We had a discussion about Tom Dooley and ethics and justice. Granted, not all the songs we listened to had that much meaning. I’m still not sure about the one with the lime and coconut.

She would read to us just before the lunch break. I’m sure we did several books, but the only one I can remember is Because of Winn-Dixie, probably because I was obsessed with dogs at that point in my life. The entire class was silent, hanging on every word; when the bell rang for lunch, we begged her to read just one more chapter. She would just laugh and send us out to lunch.

Have you had a Mrs. Grosk in your life?