My grandmother Ramsey was a second grade teacher for decades in Maryville, Tennessee. My Aunt Shug taught math for over 40 years in Knoxville, Tennessee, and my Aunt Virginia taught in the Atlanta school system for decades. These women were and are the quintessential Steel Magnolias—tough as nails, smart as a whip, with a heart and a hug as big as all outdoors. I fondly call them “Old Teachers.”
Now when I say “Old Teachers,” I am not speaking of their actual age, but what they represent. “Old Teachers” are cut from the cloth of days gone by. A day when common sense prevailed. A day when helicopter parents hadn’t been invented yet—or tolerated. A day when there was discipline and order in the classroom and all throughout the school. A day when school boards were more concerned about actually educating children instead of pushing their social agendas. A day when teachers actually got to fulfill their God-given calling to love and teach children.
The “Old Teacher” is one of the best parts of American culture. There are thousands of them in our past. And there are thousands more currently trying to teach and form the next generation. They care deeply, work tirelessly and are really good at their jobs. For instance, take what they did for a student like me . . .
It might surprise you, but I was a hyperactive child. I was a disturbance in every classroom I ever sat in. Nowadays, I make a good living stirring up a ruckus. But in those days, I made even the toughest teachers shake their head in despair. Every report card ever issued made note of my constant talking and extra doses of energy. I was not a mean kid, just very busy. If I had not had a long list of loving, strong teachers, I would not have ended up well. There is a long list of wonderful people who controlled me for my own good until I could learn self-control . . .
Fran Crouch was my seventh grade science teacher. Imagine me in the seventh grade with a Bunsen burner and natural gas . . . Lord help us! Fran probably prevented the school from being blown up every single period.
Monty Pope was my social studies teacher who, for some unknown reason, took a hundred hormone-filled eighth graders to Washington, D.C. every year so we could experience our nation’s history first-hand (and fall in love with seven different girls in seven days).
Mr. Martin taught industrial arts, where the legendary paddles were made and of course, are now missing in action. (Every high school has its inside stories, right?)
Mr. Burner drove us in his worn-out car to all the forensic speech competitions. Bet he never guessed I would speak for a living.
All the coaches worked to help us improve on and off the field, yet no one seemed to notice their 80-hour weeks.
Mrs. Wagster had a degree from a prestigious university but chose our little high school to teach calculus.
Ferline Hill was my typing teacher. We used to have these things called typewriters, you see, and it was Ferline’s job to get us to type faster with all our fingers, not just our thumbs. She would smack a yard stick on the desk and make you think you’d been shot if you dared rest you palms on the typewriter, thereby slowing your speed. (Ferline, you’ll be proud to know my palms are up as I type this.) I typed 125 words a minute in my junior year of high school because of her diligence and “motivation.”
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I don’t have space to mention every one of my “Old Teachers,” but you get the idea. These are the people who formed character, brought order out of chaos, and deeply loved the unlovable. Often times, they did all of this without so much as a proper thank-you.
So, to all of you “Old Teachers” out there, those mentioned and unmentioned . . . THANK YOU! You are amazing! You’re doing work that matters.
And for what it’s worth, I think if “Old Teachers” ruled the world, it would be a better place. Our typing speed might not improve, but we’d all have our palms up trying.
If you’re a teacher, we want to say thank you for all you do. Here at Ramsey Education, we are cheering you on! If you’d like to learn more about what we do here and how you can change your students’ lives next school year by teaching personal finance, check out our Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum.