Thursday, September 22, 2011

9/22/11: Great Teachers Teach From The Heart... Not From The Book

In this day and age, unfortunately, there are very few people who can say they have had a teacher who inspires them to the core; a teacher who is effective and creative, stern but kind, and one who reaches them in a way that can't be taught. While many people have never experienced one teacher like this, I have been lucky beyond all else to have had three in my life.

The first was Mrs. Wiggenhorn (3rd grade) who taught me that I can do anything I want no matter how difficult or impractical. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mrs. Wiggenhorn's 3rd grade class was going to put on a play and she decided on "The Pagemaster". Well, this was a bit of a problem for me. Being the theatrical diva that I am, I, naturally, wanted to play the main part, but the main character in the pagemaster was a male character. Being the fearless 3rd grader that I was, I went to Mrs. Wiggenhorn and told her that I wanted to audition for the part even though I was a girl. After my audition I received the news that I had won the part, and thus, my starring theatrical career began! It was Mrs. Wiggenhorn and her play that taught me to go for my dreams, even if the outcome is unlikely. After all, you don't know unless you try.

The second teacher, one who I hold in the highest respect, and who I am convinced helped me become the person (at least the academic person) that I am today, is Palm Spring's High School's Mrs. Loretta Stagg. She was one tough cookie who meant business, and you didn't want to be on her bad side, but she was one of the best, if not the best, teachers I have ever had. I was lucky to have her for two years, and pushed myself very hard to make sure that I did well in her classes. She meant business, and success in her class was something to be very, very proud of. She always believed in my potential and was there to help me through my hardest years of high school, and even through my process of applying to colleges.  I am sure that what I learned in her classes helped me get to Berkeley, and helped me be successful while studying there. She will forever stand out in my mind as a profound influence, and wonderful teacher.

The third teacher is one who I only had for 2 short months, but because I was with her for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, it really felt like she was my educator for much longer. My Ulpan teacher, Eti (photographed above with my Ulpan class), is one of the most special, wonderful teachers I have ever had. Today, as I walked out of my last summer Ulpan class I couldn't help but feel an immense sadness at the thought of not having her as my teacher anymore. There is a possibility that she will be teaching my Ulpan level in the fall, but it is not a for sure, and all I can do is pray to God that my luck keeps up and I am able to continue in her class during the year. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why Eti is such an amazing teacher, but whatever the reason, she loves what she does and is one of the most effective teachers in the world. One thing is for sure, she is not easy; she is tough and let's you know exactly what she expects of you, but at the same time, she is so kind and really became the mother of our class. I was seriously considering asking her to adopt me as my Israeli mother (or at least introduce me to her unmarried son so that maybe she could be an in-law :-) because I love her that much). I learned so much Hebrew from her, but beyond that, she made me feel at home here in Israel. Again, I don't know exactly how to explain it, but after being in class with her, and spending time with her, I knew that this country was the place for me. Talking with other Ulpan students, they never would mention their teachers. They would talk about the content of the class, or talk about what they liked or disliked about the class, but never would talk about the teacher. If you asked anyone in my class about Ulpan, the first thing they would say would be how much they love Eti, and how much they hope and wish to continue Ulpan with her. We were even saying that we would go down a level if it means we could be in her class. One thing is for sure, even if she is not my teacher in the fall, I will actively pursue maintaining a relationship with her. She may not know this, but whether or not she likes it, I'm making her my Israeli momma!

Now ulpan is over and it is time for me to get ready for my next Israeli adventure. I have one month before my semester starts where I will be living in Jerusalem for an internship. It is a bittersweet time for me because it will be my first time away from home and alone during the Jewish High Holidays. I can't think of any place I would rather celebrate them than in Israel, but it will be different. However, with change comes great adventure, and I know I will have an amazing month, and if my family can't be with me for the holidays, I will have to find people who fill that void (which shouldn't be too hard here in Israel!).

Until Tomorrow <3,
Jordana Simone 

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