[From 1976-1983, I taught English and directed plays at Holland Hall Upper School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was twenty-four and had negligible experience. I didn’t know up from down about teaching, but during those years, a handful of students changed me irrevocably. Over three decades, one way or the other, they’ve found me. I recently invited them to become guest bloggers, reflecting on something about their high school selves.
I really didn’t want to do this. I’m kind of sick of the voices in my own head about Holland Hall and high school.
I’m not sure why.
Perhaps it’s a sense of guilt that I still don’t fully appreciate. How lucky I was to go there. How I never even thanked my parents for the chance.
HH was exactly what I wanted.
At Barnard Elementary, they said the kids at HH had REALLY long arms because they carried so many books. I thought that sounded perfect for me since I loved books. Years later, I am stunned by how narrow our world was there. How cruel it could be. Maybe that’s always the case for those tough years. A Separate Peace. That’s a question I have.
I’m doing this because of the person who asked me to do it. Ms. Clark. Wow. She might have been the best teacher I ever had.
But I really couldn’t tell you why. I don’t think she ever actually taught me anything specific. There was nothing I ever learned directly from her. And it wasn’t like she ever directly intervened in my life or helped me through a personal situation. Yet somehow, somewhat mysteriously, she looms in my head in a big way.
Her pain radiated. I felt it. I was ashamed of myself.
It’s truly incredible that we even had to be taught that, but it was practically a foreign concept for me in 1981. But it wasn’t totally foreign either. It felt wrong even then, but she called us on it in a deep way.
What’s a good teacher?
That’s a pretty basic thing: caring relationships built on honesty and mutual respect. If I learned that, it’s even better than the long arms.
Ken Levit is Executive Director of George Kaiser Family Foundation.
To leave a comment (I always hope you will.), the program will ask you to “Comment as” and ask you to select a profile. If you aren’t signed up with any of the first 7 account choices, select Anonymous. This will allow you to Publish. If you don’t, your valuable comment will not appear. If you’d like to receive other posts, click on FOLLOW at the top of the page.