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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Saturday, March 3 2001

My teachers (fifth in a series on Valley teachers)

Continuing the series of entries about my teachers in Blacklick Township Schools, next I turn to the high school principal, Elmer Smith. Though I think he had an educator's heart, by the time we had him in high school, Mr. Smith's physical heart was probably in decline, as he had a propensity to nap in the classroom, especially study halls which is where we most encountered him. He was also our freshman English teacher, in which class I learned nothing more than I'd already learned under Mrs. Manseau in seventh and eighth grades. And he may have been our freshman Latin teacher, though I can't attest to that, those memories being too fuzzy.

Mr. Smith was a target of some ridicule by students (behind his back, of course) because of his falling asleep on the job and also his habit of snapping his fingers to get students' attention. He would accompany this behavior, often, with imprecations of "boy, boy!" And sometimes, even, it was "girl, girl!"

Despite his failings, I liked Mr. Smith, probably because he liked me. When I was in fifth grade at the high school building he embarrassed me by noticing me, but I always knew he was well intentioned. He continued to patronize me (not in the negative sense in which that word is often used) by using me often as the school "secretary," meaning I got to spend lots of my study hall hours manning the school office, answering the phone and greeting any visitors (while the principal was either teaching or supervising study halls; the school had no "real" secretary). It wasn't much of a job, of course, but being given that much freedom from faculty supervision for any hours of the school day was a bonus.

More important to me than Mr. Smith's classroom teaching was his personal mentoring. He "turned me on" to some important reading, including the magnum opus on Communism by J. Edgar Hoover, Masters of Deceit. It was mind-forming reading that helped direct my course for the next decade.

The coach for at least three of my high school years was John McKivigan, a good-natured jock whom I remember, primarily, for the syrupily romantic songs he used to teach dance classes and noon-time dancing, which he almost required some of his classes to attend, though the time was designated a recess.

My most difficult teachers to praise are Mr. Monahan, whom we had as homeroom and English teacher from the time he joined the faculty (again, I believe, in my sophomore year), and Mrs. Dunlop (Dunlap?), the business teacher. Both, I believed then and can't persuade myself otherwise even now, had a prejudiced negative attitude toward me that impaired rather than helped my education...enough said. (It is lent, after all.)

I believe that is the whole list; does anyone remember someone I've missed? Mrs. Mary Blackman, the home economics teacher, was known by everyone, but I never had her for any classes. Her annual spring style shows featuring the girls' clothing creations was a unique event, widely appreciated and recognized. She seemed, to me, to be a master teacher, but I have only general secondary impressions. Maybe some of her students will fill us in.

And, in that vein, all of your reminiscences and/or ratings of all your teachers are solicited for this discussion before we move on to another topic. And thanks to Lisa Johns for her excellent post to the list, on some of her teacher memories.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


The Lone Ranger and Tonto are camping in the desert, set up their tent, and are asleep. Some hours later, The Lone Ranger wakes his faithful friend. "Tonto, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

Tonto replies, "Me see millions of stars."

"What does that tell you?" ask The Lone Ranger.

Tonto ponders for a minute. "Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What it tell you, KemoSabi?"

The Lone Ranger is silent for a moment, then speaks. "Tonto, you dumb cluck, someone has stolen our tent."

Sent by Bob Kennedy

The Great Fast

While fasting physically, brethren, let us also fast spiritually. Let us loose every knot of iniquity. Let us tear up every unrighteous bond. Let us distribute bread to the hungry, and welcome into our homes those who have no roof over their heads, so that we may receive great mercy from Christ our God.

From an Orthodox service book for the first week of Lent

Sent by Christopher Haas
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