Here is a link to my Summer Institute portfolio. Enjoy and check back later for updates 🙂
My mother has some anecdotes about going to college/meeting my dad. I will list them here, for future generations. . .
1. My Grandmother drew a 300 mi. radius around Chicago and said that My Mother had to go to a school within that circle. My Mother picked Earlham College, in part, because it was on the line.
2. My mother was 16 when she left for college. She remembers learning to drive when she visited Earlham.
3. When she arrived in Richmond, they stopped for some gas in town. The gas station attendant said, “Ya’ll want some gas” and my mother insisted that she was not staying; she was going back to Chicago.
4. After her first year at Earlham with students that were beyond busy-body, she got a single room and put up a sign on her door that said, “I’m fine. Leave me alone!”
5. The first time he met my father he was trying to make small talk and said, “I hear your from Chicago” and she responded, “what’s it to ya!” and that was the end of that.
6. She started dating my father because of a bet. She was looking out the window with some ladies as he crossed the field with his guitar strapped to his back. They said, “Oh, there’s the new guy, Charles Hatcher, he is so cute” and my mother responded with “I know I can get him.” They were in doubt, but my mother already knew that he liked her.
7.She married my father because A. He had a car (not many men had one on campus) B. When she didn’t want to go out (and instead study) he would buy her onion rings C. He can spell D. His family is nicer than hers.
It is a wonder I was ever conceived!
A good math teacher is invaluable. My brothers and I had great math teachers growing up. My mother often comments that we didn’t have good science teachers. She thought it a shame that there was no application for what we learned in math. Perhaps, with good science instruction, we would have become scientists like my father. Instead, both my brothers teach math. When I was growing up, there were no excuses when learning math; my mother considered it as important as any literacy.
One of my math teachers, lets call her Cathleen, was my favorite. She inspired me to be better at math than I was. She did that for everyone in her class. We had no advanced placement classes, but Cathleen (I should explain that we called our teachers by there first names in my high school) made sure that everyone, regardless of initial ability, took the A.P. test in Calculus. The bar was set high in her class and there was no option of failing. When I fell below an A, she had me in for tutoring. Every time I think about the passion that she brought to the classroom, it brings me to tears. She is in me when I teach.
Cathleen and I got off to a rocky start. My mother and Cathleen had been on a committee together the summer before I took pre-calculus. The committee was to select the new dean for the school. I heard rumors that meetings lasted until 12:30 because Cathleen and my mother were arguing. Although I was proud of my mother standing up for what she thought, I was mortified that my calc. teacher would hate me by association. I dreaded the fall and the first day of her class.
Cathleen eyed me with suspicion at first. I begged my mother to skip over open house and leave it alone. There was no way–momma Hatcher had never missed meeting with any of our teachers, ever. My mother, the English teacher, told Cathleen that math was just as important as reading. She told her how I would learn calculus because it was just as important as reading and understanding Shakespeare. My relationship with Cathleen changed after that. She and my mother had reconciled in order to put my education first. Cathleen taught me that parents are an important partnership in teaching.
Early on in the class, Cathleen was reviewing some math. She was going over something-or-other with us, the subject does not matter. Cathleen asked for some help from a student. The student she picked had difficulty and hesitated with an answer. Another student yelled out, “duh!” like we were in grade school. From that day forward, whenever the “duh!” student said anything in Cathleen’s class, whether right or wrong, Cathleen responded with “duh!”. This continued ALL year! Granted, I have no idea how this made “duh!” feel, but it sent a clear message that you could not belittle someone’s ability in her class. Cathleen taught me to have no tolerance for teasing.
Cathleen also taught me how to get excited about what you teach. She had inside jokes and sayings that only her math classes would understand. The inversion of functions will to this day have me singing, “flipper. . .faster than lightning”. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I actually saw the dolphin that inspired the illusion. I will never forget the day that she entered the classroom, tripped over a large stump of a tree, and screamed, “Oh no, I tripped over that LOG, where did that come from?” She continued by taking off her shoes and socks and plunging her foot into a bucket of water. “I guess I will have to sohK-cAh-tohA!” Cathleen would go to any length so that her students could internalize math.
My favorite Cathleen moment came later. Like many 16 year old girls, had fallen head over heals for a boy. He was a math nerd and had taken calculus with Cathleen as a sophomore. Still, he thought it would be hilarious if he showed up to my math class and surprise me. However, I always came late to math. It was the hazard of having my favorite teacher right before Cathleen and staying after to chat with her. I look back at how good a math teacher Cathleen was, and how often I was late, and I feel bad; truly I do. However, I was young and stupid. I entered the class, probably 20 minutes late, and didn’t notice that my boyfriend was waiting for me. He thought he was cute when he walked passed me and out the door. I went to follow him. Cathleen stopped her lesson (for the girl that was 20 minutes late to her class) and told me to SIT DOWN. I was good at whining, “but Cathleeeeeeen. . .” like she had time to put up with this nonsense. She told me, “sit down because I love you” and she changed my life. Cathleen taught me to love my students, no matter how much they push me over the edge.
Cathleen didn’t stay on to be our senior year math teacher. We got some guy who hadn’t ever taught calculus before. He did his best, but only two students took the A.P. exam that year, and I was not one of them. A group of us went to visit Cathleen once that year. She had taken on the position of dean at the big, traditional high school. We told her how much we missed her. We pretended not to see how unhappy she was in her new position as enforcer/counselor. I was sure she was happy to see us, but I think us showing up underscored how wrong her decision was to leave teaching.
I saw Cathleen a couple of years ago. We were getting our cars serviced at the same auto dealership. It was weird that my mother hardly recognized her, but I was so excited I didn’t know how wait; I had to hug her. The first words out of her mouth were, “I’m teaching again.” It was music to my ears. I called all my high school friends to spread the good news.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my teachers while spending this summer with the University of Illinois Writing Project. Do I think that Cathleen remembers any of these stories and how they impacted my life as a teacher? Probably not. Maybe she has an inkling. It doesn’t really matter. Our teachers, the teachers of those who choose the profession, are gold. They are our mentor texts. We draw on their inspiration daily to keep going. Thanks Cathleen!
When I was 16 I fell in love. My whole world was consumed by talking and feeling the him-ness of him. Who I was became dependent on who he wanted me to be. Late night upon late night, I learned to be a parasite. He was my whole ecosystem. A symbiotic relationship between different species. Exciting because of the differences to overcome between us. Scary because without him, I felt that I would stop breathing.
The older you get, the more your realize that YOU is what makes a relationship work. Feeding the YOU is what sustains. Being true to the YOU is what attracts. At 32–the second sweet sixteen–the stakes are not as high. The world around you is an adventure, and love is just one episode. You can be proud of the decisions you make, and who you choose to spend your time with is just one. I notice him, I see him, I choose him, and I am free to be the YOU I am with him.
I have a habit of loosing things and finding them again. There have been elementary students who have hidden my cell phone “for safe keeping” and debit cards that have been mailed from half way around the world. I have to admit, my forgetfulness is made up for by the satisfaction that this might be a just world. Of all the stories, nothing compares to this one.
I was working for homeless services. After feeding people in the park, I was in the church basement cleaning up. A man came to the kitchen doorway and asked me if I had something to drink. Nothing about him set off any alarms. I filled up his to go cup and he was on his way. It took me a while to realize that my bag was gone. I ran to the church office and this started a frantic pursuit. I ran, with a custodian, after the man. We stopped him and he told us he saw a man with a blue bag–just like mine– leaving the church in the other direction. I admit it, I was nieve. We didn’t even check is back-pack.
My bag showed up in a trash can in front of a pizza joint across town. The owner had found my number in my planner. I was excited to see the scarf I had just bought and my T-pass still inside. I wore the scarf as I headed back to the church and there he was, in the church, praying. I saw him. He saw my scarf.
I eventually got everything back except the 5 dollars that was in my wallet. Over the next two days, he left me presents at the desk. One day a cell phone, another day a wallet. Each time, telling he secretary, “Make sure you tell her who left it. . .make sure you tell her it was me.”
The biggest piece that is missing from my video is the inspiration behind my profession. My video has bookends relating to my school library time as a child. My elementary school librarian, my inspiration for doing the work, happens to be a professor at the uiuc library school. I would have liked to interview her and I didn’t get my act together to do it. Darn!