Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Memory of Mr. Simmons

I don't really know what got me thinking about this, but I remember my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Simmons quite vividly and I felt the need today to tell you all a little about him.

Mr. Simmons looked just like John Wayne and he even had a rough, rolling swagger and a Western drawl just like the "Duke". I recall being petrified to get him as a teacher because he was so stern and mean, or so it seemed to me as a fourth and fifth grader. My fourth grade year my class was directly across the hall from his class, which was upstairs in the corner, and I remember that the kids never came out of his class smiling.

He had an evil looking grimace and an even more menacing paddle. You all know about the paddles that the teacher's all possessed. Well, Mr. Simmons had the paddle to end all paddles. It was a baseball bat that he had sanded down flat and bored several holes into just so that the wind resistence was minimal as it was pounding someone's butt. I don't remember exactly, but I think he called it "Lucille" or "Greta" or something like that. We were all so scared of him and it.

Well, I remember the fateful day that I found out that instead of getting the really super cool Mr. Samuelson, I got stuck with Mr. Simmons. To make matters worse, we all were getting shipped to a new sixth grade center. I was devastated. You will recall that I was a budding Spelling Champion back in those days and I was quite a little wiseacre to boot.

I went to Mr. Simmons class with my tail between my knees hoping to avoid the wrath of the "Duke" and what I found shocked me.

Mr. Simmons took a liking to our class for some reason and he was absolutely the coolest teacher I have ever had in my entire life. He was just a stud. He encouraged everyone in the class to be creative and explore avenues they had never before considered. He would joke with the whole class and especially me. He took quite a liking to me. I am not sure why, but he mentioned that I reminded him of a younger him.

We did see "Lucille" on occasion, but only when Paul Brown, the class disruptor got too out of hand. I remember Paul begging Mr. Simmons to show him some mercy as the rest of the class cheered in approval as Paul got hauled out to the hall to be punished.

Mr. Simmons actually cried on the last day of class and pulled me aside and told me how much fun he had had that entire year. I know that teachers play a big part in shaping the fortunes of so many children in these times and I am just so blessed to have had so many dedicated teachers that help mold me. Here's to you Mr. Simmons. You were the man.

How about you? Tell me a little bit about your best teachers. Oh, and no Mary Kay LeTourneau stories, please.


Blogger Angie said...

That is a GREAT story! I remember my 6th grade teacher very well. He was my all time favorite. Mr Mason was his name and he was just cool. He told us "dirty" jokes. (very mild, but they got snickers from all of us) He let us move our desks around to sit in groups with our friends. But most of all, he made learning FUN! It's funny that you mention the paddle. Mr Mason had a big ol' paddle, too. He rarely used it, but the threat was always there to keep us in line. One time, I was out in the hall making up a test that I had missed and he brought a kid out to get a "whack." He told him to bend over, and the kid did. Mr Mason looked at me and made the "shhh" sign with his finger to his lips and proceeded to lift his foot and whacked the bottom of his shoe. It made a LOUD noise that the other kids in the class surely heard. Mr Mason winked at me, told both of us not to tell a soul and they went back in the class. I still wonder to this day whether he actually whacked anyone out in that hallway.
Thanks for reminding me of Mr. Mason today!
Michele sent me. :) (sorry to write a book in your comments!!)

6:47 AM  
Blogger Martine said...

When I was 15 I had a female teacher for chemistry. She was a silent, lovely lady that did not have much control over a bunch out-of-control-teens. We teased her so often. We did not pay attention and let things explode, burn when they were not suppose too.
I had some trouble at home back then and one day she took me a-side and told me that if I ever needed to vent or needed advise she would be there. That was so sweet. I did not think much of it then, but years later I wrote her a letter on how much I appreciated this and what a lovely teacher she has been. She wrote me back, send cards for my wedding and when our child was born! Great lady!

* here via Michele*

6:47 AM  
Blogger Beanhead said...

Here via Michele's Great story> In 9th grade I had a teacher names Mr. Furman he had a wooden leg and all the kids were terrified of him. He must have seen something in me and took me under his wing and helped save me from becoming a high school drop out. I thank that man daily for his kindness.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Carmi said...

Thanks for sharing that wonderful tribute. My wife is a Kinderarten and Grade 2 teacher, and in my humble opinion, is a gifted, caring educator. I know her students will have similar stories about her when they grow up.

I wrote a column about my Kindergarten teacher, and it was the first long-form piece I published in my city's daily paper. From there, I eventually evolved into a regular columnist for the paper, so you really can say that my teacher helped make me who I am today. Here's the link to the piece:

6:43 PM  
Blogger Carmi said...

Oops, almost forgot:

1 - Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. The stories I'm sure you can tell from your time working at the airport.
2 - Dropped in from Michele's tonight. As always, the visit was magical.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Yaeli said...

Here via Michele's.
Your story of "lucille" reminded me of my third grade teacher Mrs Van Haren, who I many years later found out was a diagnosed psychotic! I remember on the first day of year 3 she came in with a huge pile of books and slammed them down on the desk in front of me and I nearly wet myself! Apparently a few years later she was "transferred to another school" because she hit a boy and locked him in the cupboard. Transferred to the nearest psychiatric unit more like it. :o)
Great blog! I'll definitely be back!

6:45 PM  
Blogger Le laquet said...

I had the archetypal teacher from hell in the last year of primary school - September 1st until the middle of June was hell! She made me miserable, brought in an ed psych to see what was wrong with me and complained to my parent's @ an interview that she "just couldn't seem to make me cry .... whatever she did!" And then one day in June at the end of a long tirade about me never making anything of my life and only being good enough to clean toilets for people like her, she swapped me with a child from the "b" stream class for the last 4 weeks of term. My new teacher Mr Thomas was fantastic - kind, gentle with a sense of humour - he changed my attitude to school. He took us on field-trips into the hills ... the number of parents per children/permission slips I'd have to organise to do this now boggles my mind - we all went just with him! We paddled in streams, learnt heaps, laughed, joked and we were respected, teased and appreciated for who we were as individuals.
The first teacher - she who kicked me out - is the reason I am a teacher today - no child should go through that; school days should be the best days of our lives. Mr Thomas is the teacher who I try to emulate! Great post Mr Jones!

11:56 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Mr. Smith definately! He was my English teacher for 3 years in High School. I ran for his class every time because I really liked him. He was the hardest teacher in the whole school but he was a good teacher. He made MacBeth real. He had such good life stories. He also gave the hardest finals in school, but if you had a B or above you didn't have to take the final. I worked my, you know what, off not to take his finals. I'll never forget Mr. Smith. I also had a great Math teacher that spent quality time with each one of us. I have a love of math because of her. K...Thanks for the post.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Wendopolis said...

I had the best teacher in fifth grade, Mrs. Farr. She actually lived down the dirt road from us. She really encouraged me to write. We had to keep a writing journal, and she always liked my stories and comics. She died of cancer when I was in high school, and I still miss her. I also wish I still had my notebook of stories!

8:35 AM  

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