Saturday, January 16, 2010

WRITER'S CHALLENGE: A TEACHER REMEMBERED

Lori from Family Trees May Contain Nuts is the hostess of a writer's challenge and our topic this time around is: A teacher who has made a difference in your life. In all my years of school, of every teacher I have ever had, there is one and only one and it didn't take but a minute to know who I would write about. The problem is of course, to pay proper tribute to her. But I am going to just cast my cares aside (as I frequently do) and just write from my heart.

She stood in front of my high school freshman class (first period, on top of it all) and announced, "My name is Mrs. Drown. As in 'can't swim"'. It grew quite a chuckle and eased the tension of our first class. I had the feeling she had this monologue down pat. She wasn't a comedian, she was actually rather quiet. Not shy, just not verbose. She'd meander about the art room and peer over our shoulders and mumble a bit. Give short bits and pieces of advice or critique. She was never one I had long, drawn out conversations with and I was too young to ever seek her out for more. But it might have been interesting. It would have.


Delores Drown was probably about thirty-five or forty years old (what does a fourteen year old know?) when I had her Freshman year. Tall and thin with wispy black hair and fair (read: pale) skin, I imagine she had a lot of Irish, English or Scottish blood. Again, never asked. It was later, much later, that I had the questions and I was too late to ask. I don't know what ever became of Mrs. Drown. I googled her to no end...


The smell of that art room. The mix of paint and turpentine and sawdust. The huge tables in the middle of the room piled high with all sort of objects for still life's; dolls, chairs, broken vases, cow skulls (of course), everything to entice your imagination in shape, size , form, texture. I grew to love that room, it became a sanctuary for me. Literally. I was a smart student, in more ways than one...


Oral Communications. Not one of Blondie's best subjects. Stand in front of a class and make a speech. Noooo Waaaaay. So I hid in the art room, just up the hall. It was my Sophomore year. All Mrs. Drown ever said while I worked on my first hour project during an empty fourth hour class was, "Turn off the lights when you are done, Jane." She knew my classes and she knew where I should have been. Did she identify with my fears? Those are the things I think of now.


An adjoining office connected the art room with the pottery room. I thought I would love pottery but I could not control that wheel!! The pottery wheel! My pots went all over the place and I literally cried. So I'd wander over to the art class and although I was clearly in my pottery smock smeared with clay, Mrs. Drown politely looked the other way. Mr Larson (the pottery instructor) would come lumbering in looking for me and Mrs. Drown would quickly involve me in conversation and then send me back off the the pottery room. And then I'd wander back over like a good blonde.


Four years. Four quarters each year. 16 courses. I never had it so good. Sophomore year, over Christmas vacation, I was in a horrific car accident. Riding in a van with a group of school friends, we went over a snowy embankment and rolled several times. I was in the hospital until March. I remember the day that Mrs. Drown walked in to visit me for the first time at the hospital. She carried a large, rolled up sheaf of paper and on it was the linoleum print I had been working on before our break. To think that she has rolled out the print for me...you had to be there. When I came back to school in the spring, healed but frail, art class is where I took refuge. I weighed 85 pounds and people stared. I was a phenomenon. I HAD to get away from it all. I always had to get away from it all and Mrs. Drown's class is where I went. She never looked twice at me.


My senior year I sat in the art class looking out the window at the apple blossom trees and the field beyond. I couldn't wait to leave high school behind and was just killing time in the art room as usual. My big drawer that has held my myriad of supplies of four years was cleaned out and my smock permanently retired. Mrs. Drown wasn't around for some reason. I had the room to myself. As I had so many times. I felt like I was leaving home. I felt like Mrs. Drown would never have another me. She wasn't there to say goodbye to. I was glad, I probably would have cried. Now I wish she had been.

86 comments:

Pondside said...

Well Jane, it's good to see that your blogger's block has lifted!
This was a beautiful post. We're so lucky if we can remember a teacher who touched us in a special way. It's also true that we don't know when or how we'll make a difference to a child or young person - those little relationships can have a profound effect.

scrappydee said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful post. As a teacher, it warmed my soul. Over the last 13 years I have had many students who I knew I gave refuge to (gladly) and sometimes they didn't get a chance to express gratitude..but I saw it in their eyes and smiles...she knew.

Lori E said...

Now this is what a teacher is supposed to be. A teacher who gives you a safe place to be. If you learn something even better.
I wonder if, like you said, she did identify with you. If she grew up only wanting to be in the art room too.
The accident sounds so awful. She was probably glad she had something to bring you in the hospital so she could visit without a lot of small talk.
I'll bet she couldn't bear to say goodbye.
Thank you for joining in Jane. I loved hearing about your most memorable teacher.

Teresa said...

Beautiful Post Jane!
I have been a teacher for 20 years. This is so how I have always strived to impact my sweet first graders!
XXOOXX
I do hope you will pop over and grab my PINK WEEK Giveaway button! It's going to be a blast!
XXOOXX

Julie@beingRUBY said...

What a lovely post Jane! Your writing truly captured the feeling of finding that one safe haven. Mrs Drown sounds like one of those teachers who knows when to just let you find your own answer, yet still provide support. I had a teacher like that too and did wonder what ever happened to him...

Well I'm sorry to hear you were in such a horrific accident. It sounds like Mrs Drown was just what you needed.. xx Julie

vintage girl at heart said...

Wonderful...gosh you really should write a book.... I feel like turning the next page!!! I can smell the art room....that is how good this is!!!

mbkatc230 said...

This is such a beautiful tribute Jane. Mrs. Drown is the teacher that everyone needs at least once in their lives. She taught you so much more than art. And I think that every teacher wants to be a Mrs. Drown. This was beautifully written, I can see her in my mind and as someone else said, I can smell that art room. And I can picture her walking into your hospital room with your project rolled up under her arm. Beautiful job Jane! Kathy

Paula said...

Great post! Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone here read this and knew Mrs. Drown? It would mean so much for her to read this tribute.

I hope that kids remember me as fondly as you remember Mrs. Drown.

Gayle from Southern Thresholds said...

What a wonderful thing it would be if the world had more Ms Drown's in the teaching arena...she was a gem

Marla at Always Nesting said...

I'm almost speechless as I sit here and cry. What a beautiful, loving story. I feel, not only the inner beauty of your teacher, but also your struggle as a young teen. Wonderful!

C'est Moi, Julie Marie said...

Hello Jane... such a beautiful story about Mrs. Drown...I so wish you could somehow get in touch with her... so sorry you were in such a terrible accident back then... I am sure she brightened your day so when she came to see you in the hospital... xoxo Julie Marie

Lori said...

What a wonderful story ~ to have a teacher that inspired you is a cherished memory.

Deb said...

She would be proud to read your post...I really enjoyed your story...

Leigh of Bloggeritaville said...

Yeah! No more bloggers block!
I love this post, Jane! What a beautiful, poignant memoriable post!



HUGS!
Leigh
Tales from Bloggeritaville
www.lbratina.blogspot.com

Kelli said...

What a beautiful tribute to one who seems to have had a wonderful influence on your life. My art teacher in high school was one from whom I did my best to stay away. Far, far away. Thankfully I had other wonderful teachers who meant as much to me as Mrs. Drown meant to you.

Dana and Daisy said...

what an awesome store Jane, and yes, I can smell my high school art class to this day, such a comforting smell to me! Thank God for Mrs. Drown and others like her!

you are such a good story teller!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

I was trained to be a teacher and never taught a class in the classroom that is. I hope I taught something to young people over the years in sports, etc. Wonder if I will ever find out? :)

southerninspiration said...

I came over by way of Marla's blog and was so blessed by your account of your teacher! What a beautiful description of that time of your life as hard as it must have been at the time. I think being a high school teacher would be so hard, but it sounds like she was a good one!
thanks!
Suzanne

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Lovely...........

From how you described her, she probably knew... She must have known that you took refuge in her Art room. And she certainly was happy with you doing so.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Btw, I'm certainly glad you survived that terrible HS accident!!!!!!!!!!

How you must worry, when your children are out in cars. All parents do worry, but yours must be worse, somehow....

Cozy Little House said...

This is so beautiful, Jane! I wish I had memories like that. For some reason my memory of those times is just horrible. I'm glad you had a Ms. Drown, as in can't swim, as she obviously had such an impact on your life. And you still remember her with such fondness! I so enjoyed reading this.
Brenda

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Jane...What a touching post! I am so sorry about your accident...how scary! And as a teacher, I hope that I have been somebody's Mrs. Drown. I hope that somehow you will find her! Class reunion any time soon? Your senior class president probably has a list or a way to contact many of the faculty members. Good luck with finding her one day! Happy Sunday...hugs...Debbie

Cherrie said...

A beautiful story, I enjoyed reading it!

Lou Cinda said...

Oh Jane, what a beautiful post! So touching and so heartfelt....I felt like I was right there with you....

Sometimes we don't know until later what an impact someone had on our lives and on our heart...

I got chills when I read this....

Hugs to you...

Lou Cinda

Blue Creek Home said...

Oh my goodness...you do have a way with words or maybe your heart since that is where you were speaking from!
I felt like I was with you in that art room, and I was definitely hiding from speech class with you!!!

I hope that you can find out what ever became of Mrs. Drown.
Rhonda

Linda (Nina's Nest) said...

Oh, how touching. Being a teacher myself, I can only hope that I made as much of a difference to one person as Mrs. Drown did to you. Thanks for sharing. Linda

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I love this Jane. You wrote from the heart and your a very good writer! What a heart warming story, I feel bad about your accident, that must have been traumatic. Mrs. Drown sounds like one smart cookie! And you my dear, are one smart Blonde! Come by and say hi when you can. Hugs, Cindy

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Nice post, Jane! Thank you for stopping by. I love your mantel pics below too. Have a great week!

Kathysue said...

Blondie,what a great idea for a post. I read my friends Kat's post about her favorite teacher and it made me stop and think about mine. I still remember Mrs. Mills in the 4th grade. I read your comment on my post today and was glad that it inspired you. I have slips on my windsor chairs also,I think you can see the shadow of them in the pict of my dining room. They were $10 slips and I had the letter P monogrammed in black. Without those P.s I don't think they would look as nice in the room. Let me know what you wind up doing. Kathysue

Karyn Bernard (French Charming) said...

Hi Jane,

What a beautiful and well written tribute to Mrs. Drown. How fortunate that this woman made such an impact on you and offered you a place to be you.

Have a wonderful and blessed week my friend!

Love and hugs,
Karyn

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Good morning, Jane. (I always want to address you as "Blondie.")

For some reason I never had a favorite teacher but I remember most as being nice people. My daughter is a teacher and a much loved one. I know she is a safe haven for many students. She is now a councelor and I hope one day someone writes so lovingly of her.

Tammy said...

Jane, thank you for having me. What an awesome tribute quietly told by I'm sure an unforgetable student. Her impression upon you and what you drew from her had to be a force of reckoning. I dare say she probably saw herself inside you. The dance you two had is one everyone should have with someone. Truly a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. Hugs. Tammy

xinex said...

You are such a good writer, Janie. I can feel every word coming from your heart. I wonder whatever happened to Mrs. Drown! I am so sorry to hear about your accident but you are still around so I am happy for that or I would have never had met a wonderful lady....Christine

Cass @ That Old House said...

You have given Mrs. Drown, wherever she might be now, a wonderful gift -- and the gift that every teacher hopes for.

A beautiful story, Jane -- moving and so special. Thanks! I just want to hug the little Jane who "hid" in the art room!

Cass

Chrissy said...

Lovely post indeed,looks to me like your back on track!!Everyone should have a story like that,don;t you think? Chrissy

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

Thank you Jane for a wonderful post and a real trip down memory lane for me...I started thinking about my freshman teacher Mrs. Hartman and how I just grew to love her...she alway spend the time with me just asking and talking about what I wanted in life...At 15 I told her I wanted and did get married and I so remember her telling me " Gloria you can only live on love for 2 weeks honey and after that your going to get hungry" well what did that old lady know...until I got married and seen she knew just what she was talking about...she made it possible for me to get back in school and even bring my oldest daughter to school with me each day...she was a true blessing to me...Thanks so much for coming by and seeing me I always love it when you do...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

The Berry's Patch said...

Okay, now I'm in tears. What a great story! It would be so awesome to find her again.

www.MaisonStGermain.com said...

Hi Jane,
What a beautiful tribute to your teacher. I'll bet that if she could read it (and maybe she has) you would have touched her heart like you did to so many of us. Thank you for sharing.
~Debra
Capers of the vintage vixens

sissie said...

Hi Jane,
I love reading your post today. You have written it so beautifully with such sincerity. I can remember one teacher that inspired me to believe in myself and to never stop learning and I'll always be grateful for her.

Thanks for sharing.

Michelle said...

What a fabulous post and I've read it twice now, both times fighting tears. You were very fortunate to have such an understanding teacher.

I taught art K-12 and I always let my students hide out in my classroom. I thought that was part of my job. ;)

Barb~Bella Vista said...

Jane, this is great. You are very talented, my friend. Such a sweet and meaningful post.

Hugs, Barb ♥

Sharon said...

I hope Mrs Drown is able to read this post.
Teachers deserve to know just how much they are respected and how much they impact our lives.
I hope, when we ,as either students or parents of students, say those simple words, "thank you", they know just how much we care.

Thank you, to ALL the Mrs Drowns' we have had in our lives!!!!!

Barb said...

Hi Jane,

What a lovely tribute to a special lady. You were very fortunate to have a teacher like that in your life. She truly touched you and helped shape you, I think.
You touched her also. For her to bring your print to the hospital says a lot.

Beautiful post.

big hugs,
Barb

cityfarmer said...

all of your vivid memories conjured up tons at this end!!!

we had a small rural high school...43 in my graduating class ...we still chat ( most of us) on facebook.

thanks for the stroll down memory lane

Lorrie said...

What a heartfelt and well-written tribute to a special lady Jane. In your writing I can see at the same time the shy 14-year-old who never thought to ask questions and the wife and mother you are in the present who treasures the memories and wonders about the deeper relationship that might have been.

Marianne@Songbird said...

Lovely story! You do well on these writer's challenges.

Federica said...

What a beautiful post darling, really lovely and sweet. Reading you is always a pleasure even my english is not perfect.
Don't miss the second part of my weekend on my blog.
Have a nice day!
Federica

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

That was a wonderful story, Jane. It makes me want to know what happened to Delores Drown.

The teacher I remember best is my third grade teacher. Even though I enjoyed the library and hearing stories, by the time I reached third grade. Miss Beatty was the teacher who influenced my lifelong passion for the written word. I don't know what ever happened to her. She was very young, in 1951. None of my old school friends remember her. Isn't it funny how a teacher will leave an impression on one child and yet others have no memory of her/his classroom?

Debbie said...

What a beautiful story! It really was touching, and heartfelt!

Kathysue said...

Four bathrooms! Wow I would be in heaven, I do love a pretty bathroom. So glad you enjoyed the post on Towels. I am fanatic about my towels, as I am writing I am finding I have a lot of little design quirks,hehe. I think I hear a post in that?? Have a great day. Kathysue

Tammy@ A Doctor in the House said...

Wow! I have lumps in my throat. You are an incredible writer. As a teacher, I can only hope that one of my students could have such a wonderful memory as this. Thanks for sharing!

Shellbelle said...

Well, I had to walk away for a minute, the tears just welled up and I couldn't see the screen. What a lovely and loving post you wrote honoring your teacher. I know she would be so proud to read your words. Too often, teachers just don't know what an impact they made on one of their students and your post teaches us to remind them. Gosh, you make me want to google some of my teachers, but by now they are long gone.

Lynn said...

Beautiful post. It sounds like you meant a lot to her--kindred spirits, if you will.
What a terrible accident! I instantly pictured you being tossed about in the van! Your writing is vivid. You incorporated all of the five senses.

susan said...

Janie-I could tell your story was heartfelt. I wish you could find Mrs. Drown or someone in her family to let her know what she meant to you. Even her silence was meaningful. As a former high school teacher, I would like to think that I made a small difference to someone. Every Sunday when we walk out of church our minister says "what you do and say makes a difference". Thanks for reminding me and for sharing your story. :)

susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
{Bellamere Cottage} said...

Hi Jane...

What precious memories.....It's so funny to look back through a child's eyes, isn't it? I had a Mrs. Krumm....I thought she was REALLY old and have never looked for her. I wish I had.

Warm blessings,
Spencer

Ticking and Toile said...

Hi Jane,
That was a very beautiful post! Please stop by my site today...I have something for you!
Shellagh

Maryrose said...

Hi Janie,
I loved your tribute to Mrs Drown. I too loved the art room and my Mrs Drown was Mr. Baughman. I loved that class and loved that man. He was still teaching when my oldest daughter went to high school. Funny, he must have been fairly young when I had him...who knew? You do have a way with words. They are like a song with an insight into your soul. Lovely.

kimmcl said...

Awesome tribute Jane. You had me in tears!
xo
Kim

Rettabug said...

You have touched many the hearts today with this lovely post, Jane. What a tribute to a soft spoken woman who knew just what to do & more importantly, what NOT to.

You write beautifully & I enjoyed my short visit....keep it up.

Kathy said...

I never met Mrs Drown but I like her a lot Jane and I am so happy that you survived that horrific accident and you had a Mrs Drown in your young life. :-) hugs, Kathy.

I enjoy your posts Jane,I don't always comment, things just get in the way,I enjoy your visits too :-)

Helen said...

Great writing! I remember my best teachers - vividly!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was so beautifully written and so touching. It is so true that teachers shape so many lives in so many unseen ways in their career. I hope wherever Mrs Drown is she gets the opportunity to read what you wrote. Any chance on finding how to contact her to do that?

PS Glad you survived that very serious accident!

KarenHarveyCox said...

Jane, This is just beautiful. Forget sewing, your gift is truly in writing. I love that you chose your art teacher to write about, and how she comforted you and inspired you all at the same time.

Karen

Federica said...

You are always so sweet with me. Thanks darling.
Have a nice day.
Federica
xoxo

Deb said...

Lovely post Jane. So beautifully written & fun Writer's Challenge. Mrs Drown sounds like an amazing teacher. It would be wonderful if you could find her ♥

Theresa said...

Golly Jane, You sure get a lot of comments:) Well, here's another one. Thank you for stopping by and paying me a visit! It is always great to meet new people! I loved reading about your teacher and what she meant to you. More than you even knew at the time. Sounds like she really left part of her heart with you. I see the beautiful Leslie on your sidebar. I would love to know who she is! Have a blessed day and as we say in the South... "Nice to meet 'cha"

Melissa Miller said...

Jane you are an amazing writer with a wonderful gift. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Blessings, ~Melissa :)

Shelia said...

Oh, Jane, what a story! You're a terrific writer. You really did paint a picture with your words. You, my dear, are a miracle to even be with us today! I can't imagine an ordeal like you must have gone through after your accident.
What a wonderful lady Mr. Drown must have been. She would be proud to read your story.
I'm so glad you asked about the parade. I wondered if anyone would. Actually that was a little set up in the toy soldier store. I thought they looked so real after I downloaded my photos to my puter.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Betsy said...

What a beautiful, heartfelt story. I loved it! You certainly have a way with words! I wish I had a teacher in school who was like your art teacher!

BTW...Leslie on your sidebar...is that your sister? You certainly favor each other!

Charlene said...

Sweet post Jane!!! I can see you hiding in Ms Drowns class room. It was wonderful you had such sanctuary there. Sorry you couldn't find her now. I added you to my sidebar so I could hop over when you have a new post. HUGS! Hope you are feeling better.
Charlene

Rue said...

I had a teacher like that... Mrs. McMullen. She was the sweetest teacher in the world and I know she's long gone, but I wish I could say thank you.

Beautiful post Jane :)

xoxo,
rue

bj said...

This is an awesome post, dear Blondie. I just love it. You could write a book. I love your down to earth take on this lovely story.
bwaaaaaa....it takes me back to MY favorite teacher...I am 72 and my Mr. Chumrey is still alive. I guess he is bound to be in his
90's...he in a nursing home now and knows no one. The best thing, tho....our 50th class reunion in '06 was to honor him ...he was there and he knew us all. A blessing, indeed...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Federica said...

Darling don't miss my First Anniversary Giveaway!
Federica
xoxo

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Jane Sweetie...
This is the most beautiful post ever. Sweetie you write just so elegantly. I feel like I too was in the Art class with you, seeing Ms. Drown as she taught, things she did and shared.

She was your refuge and Art was to be your escape. Do you still draw? I imagine her heart couldn't take a good-bye from you, you were her child that she had raised for 4 years Jane. She loved you.

What a beautiful story, and you teared my eyes this morning. I so loved this Jane. Thank you for sharing a memory with me. So very heart touching.

Country hugs and much love, Sherry

Susie from Bienvenue said...

Thank you for coming by and sharing a piece of your heart. Stay true to you and your blog. They are both beautiful!

Beautiful pear tree lane said...

Beautifully written Jane, I am over joyed with your ability to express yourself through written words. i truly believe you are a gifted writer, and I encourage you to continue to use this gift.

I feel as though I know Delores Drowns, and I wish you could have reconnected with her. Maybe she was not there that last day because she might have shown her emotions too. It seems to me that she not only impacted your life, but that you impacted hers as well.
Thank you for coming by and for your sweet words of encouragement.
Blessings,
Sue

g said...

What a wonderful, kind person she was. Too bad you can't reconnect, but even so, what a great memory - and perhaps you carry her legacy on as you treat others with such kindness and encouragement.

vintage simple said...

Such a lovely, touching post... Thanks for sharing this with us.

-maria

heartfelt living said...

Hi Jane, What a lovely post. I'm sure Mrs. Drown would be so touched. She certainly sounds like a wonderful teacher and you did a wonderful job expressing the difference she made in your life. Thank you so much for sharing your very heartwarming story.
It makes me proud to think that in a few years my daughter will be a art teacher and I hope she inspires many students as well.

Federica said...

Good morning and happy Friday!
Thank you for entered my giveaway.
Good luck!
Federica

Jane (Frugal Fine Living) said...

Jane, what a wonderful post! I truly enjoyed it.

Jane

hummer said...

I loved your post. You bring to life the feelings and the room. She sounds like the understanding teacher every school needs along with a creative safe haven. Thank you for sharing.

curtissannmatlock said...

What a wonderful tribute to your dear Mrs. Drown. You are blessed to have known her. Thank you so much for sharing your dear memories. I enjoyed reading!

hugs,
CurtissAnn