Remembering important teachers, part 2: It’s all about the food!

Here are recollections about important teachers from my friend Isabel McLean, who’s a lead instructional coach at Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia. See Isabel’s blog here.

As the new school year begins, it seems the right time to reflect on classroom teachers that have impacted me positively. It’s incredibly hard to choose just one teacher to write about and the ones who I had the most memories of are my primary school teachers. I find it challenging to remember the secondary teachers – perhaps because we had so many during one school year?

In fact, it is far easier to remember the teachers who impacted me negatively – the teacher who had me write a long and boring report on every president in the 4th grade or the middle school geometry teacher who punished me for looking on a friend’s test paper rather than recognizing that the math was confusing and I needed help. While I remember them negatively, they taught me valuable lessons about what NOT to do in the classroom.

Two primary teachers stand out to me, mostly because of the cooking that we did in their classrooms!

I remember Mrs. O fondly, my pre-school teacher and the mother of one of my brother’s friends. I absolutely loved her name and cooking in her classroom and remember making pink icing and spreading it on top of graham crackers. Here’s the recipe:

  • 9 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 box graham crackers

The iced graham crackers looked like this, except pink:

crackerYum. And I loved cooking with Mrs. West too, my 3rd grade teacher. She was beautiful and kind, and her boyfriend rode a motorcycle. She probably was a little like the teacher in the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, Delphinium Twinkle.

bookMrs. West taught us how to make soup with Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, and the recipe, as best I can recall, went something like this:

Mrs. West’s Turkey Soup

  • Leftover turkey
  • Chicken broth
  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen lima beans
  • Chunks of potatoes
  • Slices of carrots

It was delicious and simple, and I asked my mom to make it over and over again when I was little. To this day, I still make Mrs. West’s Soup in the fall and winter.

As I think back to the teachers I loved and remembered, they both made a personal connection with me – most often through food! Mrs. O taught us about pink icing and graham crackers, and Mrs. West shared ideas about soup and Thanksgiving leftovers. The food created lasting memories for me that are pleasant and comforting. Are those the teachers we tend to remember? Are they memorable because of the special moments or experiences they created? What are your thoughts? Why do you remember some of your teachers?

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