Stupid Questions & Unforgettable Educators
Halfway through my sixth grade year, I was accepted into Flare, the gifted program. I was beyond excited because Flare would replace my reading class, which had gotten stale since I had read most of the interesting books in the library. The opportunity to learn and experience things outside the normal sixth grade curriculum was exactly what I needed to escape my educational boredom, but it was also a scary idea for two very important reasons:
- Everyone in the class seemed super cool, so I felt like the dorkiest person in the room. All I was missing was taped-up glasses and suspenders.
- Flare kids didn’t eat lunch during the normal six grade lunch hour. I wouldn’t have any of my friends to eat lunch with me.
I was mortified. To a sixth grader, the thought of getting made fun of by the cool kids and losing your place at the lunch table was a huge deal; it tied my stomach in knots.
It turned out that the other students in the class were popular for a reason - they were super cool. Being around them was a ton of fun, and several of them are still my friends today. Other than the occasional casserole surprise, even lunch ended up not being that bad, and the class itself ended up being my favorite part of the day.
Why? Let me tell you about Mrs. Sharyn Davis.
Mrs. Davis was the first teacher I’d ever had who treated students like we weren’t all mindless heathens. She knew that we were capable of rational thought. She gave real lectures and expected us to use our brains and decide what was important. The “there are no stupid questions” rule stopped at her door, because, frankly, there are stupid questions, and she would let you know if you had asked one. She didn’t scold us for stopping her to talk out of turn, though, and her responses were unwaveringly fair, so no one was ever afraid to ask her anything.
There was never a single day in her class that was boring. During the two and a half years I spent in her class, I learned about things I would never have known existed with a normal middle school curriculum. Formal logic, Norse mythology, the inner workings of feudal Japan, and even origami were just some of the subjects that she taught. While learning about Japan, we played a game where each student controlled a samurai army; the objective of the game was to become shogun. The game lasted for several weeks, and I lost horribly, but I still remember the excitement of the class when it was time to play.
Mrs. Sharyn Davis
Mrs. Davis didn’t treat us like we were children. The major theme of her class was that she treated us with respect and fairness. We were expected to return the favor, and we did; that is something that I will always remember. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever meet Mrs. Davis and do otherwise. She expected a lot, but she believed in us… in me.
Looking back, I can see that I was just a normal pre-teen who was scared to death of change- and being deemed forever uncool- but taking the leap paid off. My time in her class played a major role in shaping who I am today. I hope that every student has a teacher like Mrs. Davis.
Author Linell Bonnette works as an Associate Developer at SchoolStatus building intuitive solutions for modern educators. Check out some of Linell's work here.