11.29.2018

That one teacher you remember... not because she was so wonderful, but because you disliked her immensely


This might be a two part post because although it starts in the same 'stem', it branches out to two totally different rambles going on in my brain.  The first (and what the post was supposed to be about) is that fact that religious sisters rarely still wear their habits; and the second sprout off my original topic is a teacher that I didn't like at all when I was a kid and surprisingly, I still don't like her even though I've not seen her in decades.

This morning was sipping my first cup of coffee and checking emails when I read the daily bible verses I am signed up for.  I wanted to continue reading more of the particular verse for today so I went online to continue reading.  This led to another click, and another click and pretty soon I was thinking about an old teacher I had in elementary school.

I only remembered her first name, but because she was a religious sister and I recalled the order she was in, I found her online.  When I read her last name, that too came back to me instantly.  Yep, that was her.

Her photo would not have been enough for me to have recognized her all these decades later, but after I knew it was her, I could remember the cheeks and nose easily.  The biggest change is that her religious order doesn't wear habits any longer and in my memories she is wearing black and white modest clothing (they stopped wearing habits by the mid 70's but still wore black and white clothes) along with their coif (although it didn't cover their hair any longer, it was sat on top their head and held their black veil.

I remember this teacher not because she had such a positive, profound effect on me and that I was thankful for her teaching, wisdom and loving kindness all these years later, but because I didn't like her.

Actually, I suppose I would be hard pressed to find anyone who liked her.  Even my own mother will shake her head and purse her lips to this day when you bring up this particular teacher from my childhood. I'm not sure any of the kids in our elementary school ever called her by her religious name.  We all knew her as "Sea Hag".   (The Sea Hag is a tall, masculine looking witch featured in comics/cartoons as a nemesis to the character Popeye.)  To this day, as middle aged adults, if I were to say "Remember Sea Hag?" to anyone from that 3rd grade classroom, they immediately response "YES!"  even the guy who moved away in 4th grade to another state remembers her.

She really did wield a ruler to rap knuckles but my memories are her using the rubber end of a pencil to jab my forehead when I just couldn't 'get' (comprehend) the math she was teaching me.  She used to ask if the "sun was coming out from behind the clouds, yet?" (Meaning are you understanding it YET?)  I rather liked math just fine up until she was my teacher that year.

Although she didn't seem to like any kids at all, I remember her being particularly hard and out of patience with a boy who I suspect now, had Dyslexia.

This particular teacher/sister just wasn't a kind person.

Well, back to my coffee talk...

So I looked her up.  The first thing I notice is she, like most all from that religious order, no longer wear black and white clothing.  She is wearing a bright blue polo shirt and interestingly to me anyway, is the fact she not only isn't wearing any clothing to show she is a sister, but she isn't even wearing a cross necklace.  Nothing. No outward sign of her being a woman who dedicated her life to God.  But that starts down that 'other' post I mentioned at the start of today's coffee talking.

Other interesting thing I noticed, that she not only looks like any other gray haired woman shopping at my local grocery store or walking down the street in jeans, everyday polo and tennis shoes, but that she's shortened her name.  She no longer goes by "Sister Barbara" but instead is known simply as "Barb".  This isn't just her, but all the sisters of the religious order (well, there are a few older sisters who sister use "Sister Anne" and even still wear black and white, or a coif and veil or a cross necklace... but they are few and far between).  "Barb" goes by barb and next to her bio I recognized the sister who was the principal of our school at the time.  She is just known as Janice now.  Not Sister Janice but just... Janice.

Like any other woman on the street or in the pews.  Just Mary, Sue, Jane, or Barb.

As I looked at the photo and bio of my old teacher...  Sister Barbara, now known just as Barb in a blue shirt, I realized I still don't like her.

As a matter of fact, reading where she went on to teach (she is mostly teaching overseas now) the only thing that went through my mind was that I felt bad for the kids in Bolivia who had to put up with her now.

She was angry, mean and short tempered. I recall her laughing and smiling sometimes but only when she was speaking to other adults or faking the smile for parents.  She didn't seem to enjoy teaching and she sure didn't seem to like kids.  Not just me, but any kid (hence all the children of our elementary school knowing her only as Sea Hag, not Sister Barbara.)  None of the kids liked her, almost none of our parents liked her.  I even wonder if some of her fellow teachers liked her because I absolutely recall one of the teachers (not a religious sister, just a regular teacher) using Sea Hag instead of her name when talking to another teacher.  Seriously, the whole school called her that and knew her as that.  Even our parents, when talking among each other used Sea Hag instead of her name. When you know someone by that name it's hard to switch in mid-sentence to remember to use their real name. 

Looking at her photo all these years later I realized that I didn't like her then... and I still don't particularly care for her now.

 


(I think I've already chatted over coffee in the past about a Sister I did like.  Loved actually.  Ironically, she was the teacher that left our school and Sea Hag replaced.  Not a good replacement.  The Sister that was sent elsewhere to teach was kind, patient and always had a smile and a hug for the children.  She did reprimand children that needed it but never used pencils to jab their heads nor rulers to rap knuckles.  Besides, children didn't want to misbehave for her; we wall loved her.  I looked her up a couple years ago.  She no longer wears a habit, nor black and white clothing, nor the coif and veil.  I was sad to see that but looking at her photo, it was the same warm, wonderful smile of a warm, wonderful person.)









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