By Linda Cicoira- When one looks back on former school days, a favorite teacher always seems to come to mind. These instructors are role models, mentors, nurturers, and listeners. They provide comfortable environments and look for signs of trouble.
For Terry Ewell, of Clam, that teacher was Emily Wescott at Parksley High School. “She taught English and it would take hours just to parse five sentences for homework,” said Ewell in an answer to an email survey conducted by the Eastern Shore Post. “I ended up loving English grammar and I have a degree in communication and writing.”
“Miss Wescott was such a character,” Ewell continued. “When miniskirts came in fashion, she would pretend to swoon and hide her face behind a newspaper when a certain classmate minced up to the blackboard in her really mini-miniskirt. And sometimes, she would throw the window up and hang her head out the window until this girl finished and sat down.”
“Miss Wescott was sooooo not politically correct and I’m sorry we don’t have more people like her today who are not afraid to speak their minds, stand up for their beliefs,” wrote Ewell.
Meredith Parlett, of New Church, said Earl Major was her favorite teacher. “When I didn’t understand something, he took the time to help me individually.”
Her children are excited about going back to school next week. “My oldest is a senior this year.” My youngest said he “is ready to start learning again.”
Parlett “loved biology and was actually an EMT at 15. I also thought I wanted to be a stockbroker or in business. After working as a paramedic for several years, I now work in accounting, so I kind of got to do both.” Her youngest child’s favorite subject is math. Her oldest prefers history, science, and automotive.
Amber Evans, of Machipongo, said her favorite teacher was Mrs. Christine Tankard. “She made learning fun with her songs,” Evans explained. Tankard taught math at Northampton High School.
Shirley Christian, of Melfa, said Sister Cecilia was her pick for best teacher. “She taught math and I loved it,” Christian said. Math and music were her favorite subjects. “Loved to do both.”
Christian’s great-granddaughter is looking forward to returning to school. “She loves to learn and meet friends.” Christian said the girl’s favorite subject is probably “playtime.”
Stefanie Jackson, of Pungoteague, said Mrs. Kuntz, her third-grade teacher, was her favorite. “She was very kind and was never mean or raised her voice to the class.”
At first, Jackson said spelling was her top choice “because it was my best subject. I always got a 100 on my spelling tests. Then spelling was no longer its own subject and I was sad. English became my new favorite subject because I always loved to read and write stories.”
“If I had to guess, I would say my daughter prefers reading, because she loves books, too. I would say my son likes science. He loves learning about how things work and how animals live and grow and survive.”
“The only thing that really excites my kids about going back to school is seeing their friends,” Jackson said. “My daughter pretty much likes all her teachers.”
Angie H. Crutchley, of Exmore, had several favorite teachers. “Mrs. Murphy bought my first piece of art for $5. It was a clay frog. Ms. Annis was a straight shooter and hilarious. Ms. Miracle just brought me a picture this year of me from 1st grade. Ms. Haynes taught me how to multiply and had fun ways of teaching. She later became my neighbor. Also a neighbor, Mr. Smaw was my art teacher and I loved that he would give us Mentos. But my favorite teacher of all was my mommy. She was a teacher, now retired, and I never had her in the classroom, but her lessons have kept me alive for 39 years.”
Crutchley said she “liked journalism and English. I’ve had some affiliation with a newspaper (on and off) for 25 years or more. I was even in the newspaper club in middle school. I liked writing so that was a legitimate outlet where I could find a job, and I did.”
“My stepdaughter, Devon, liked music (piano) and she was great,” Crutchley added. “She also enjoys psychology.”
“I played extracurricular basketball and did gymnastics as a kid,” Crutchley said. “I got 3rd place in the Elks HoopShoot Contest. I was more of a nerdling. The only letter I ever got was in academics.”
Connie Morrison, of Onancock, credits her fourth grade music teacher, Mrs. Haynes, at Jefferson Elementary in Norman, Okla., for her love of music. “She taught us songs that were popular and songs that were useful. I can still recite all 50 states in alphabetical order because she taught us ‘50 Nifty United States.’ I’ve won some bets with that skill,” she said. The down side is “song lyrics, like ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose?’ occupy about 92.3 percent of my brain capacity at the expense of important things like my co-workers’ names.”
She also remembers sixth grade teacher, Mr. Lynn, at Newell Elementary just outside Charlotte, N.C., for the life lesson, “Nothing is free. Somebody has to pay for it.”
Her own children’s interests are varied: physics, supply chain logistics, and psychology are the fields of her oldest three. Her youngest, Meg, is a senior at Nandua High and plans to study musical theater in college.
Denise Bowden, of Chincoteague, has three favorites — Joan Bull, Missy Holland, and Sue Nelson Matthews. “The best of the best!” Bowden’s favorite subject was “history because the first time my parents took me to Williamsburg and I touched a chair that George Washington sat in, I was hooked.”
She was also involved in softball and volleyball. “Loved every single second of it,” she said.
Sam Serio, of Melfa, said his kid is “ecstatic” about going back to school. The teacher he is most looking forward to seeing is James Lawrence who teaches marketing. “He challenges him,” Serio said.
Serio’s favorite teacher was Ken Steiner. “He shamed me into achieving higher grades.” His favorite subjects were “English literature and composition. I had a knack for it.” His son favors “sports marketing.” Both he and his son were involved in sports.
Kimberly Perry, of Greenbush, picked Deborah Rouse as her favorite teacher. “She was also so sweet and caring, even outside of the classroom.” Perry liked math. “I enjoyed using equations, etc., to figure out problems.”
Robert Doughty, of South Chesconessex, said Nick Savage, a biology teacher at Bayside High School, in Virginia Beach, was his favorite and was voted No. 1 in the area a few times. “Also Professor Earnest Epley taught me physics in college. He had previously worked on the Manhattan Project. They both had a way of teaching that held your interest and gripped your imagination.”
“My kids are out of school,” wrote C.L. Marshall, of Pocomoke, Md. “My wife is a teacher. I’m very excited school is back in.” He said he loved band camp.