Da Realist 1
Wacky Wednesday was supposed to be an opportunity for 2dopesistahs to write without having to think of a topic. Easy right? Well, perhaps we underestimated the way that I am able to complicate anything. No matter how straightforward the topic, I usually think about my response for several days, and eventually something strikes me.
That’s what happened today as I was driving to the store. Suddenly, I knew who I was going to write about–my 10th grade drivers’ education teacher. And because I haven’t talked to him and asked to use his name, I’ll call him Mr. M.
For many students at my high school, taking drivers’ ed was just a formality, something they did so their parents would have cheaper rates on car insurance; they already knew how to drive. At the end of the semester, most students who completed the class were able to get drivers’ licenses. But not me. At the end of the semester, I got an “A” in the class and a learner’s permit, but no practice in the driver’s ed car because our class was too large.
But Mr. M wasn’t done with me. Whenever he had free time, he would allow me to practice driving during my free period or lunch. He even came by my house in the summertime to coach me. And to be perfectly honest, I needed a LOT of coaching.
During one incident, I’m pretty sure he wanted to kill me. I was driving down the two-lane highway that led back to school, and I kept veering off the road. The large semis that we met on that narrow highway always scared me, so I drifted to the side. This was no doubt unnerving to Mr. M and the other two passengers, and he began to yell at me to get back on the road. Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed that I stopped and put the car in park right there in the middle of the highway. Then, I said, as calm as you please, “I need to regroup.” There was silence in the car. Maybe everyone was too shocked to speak. Or, maybe they were praying. I took a deep breath, put the car back in drive, and continued to school without incident.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t banned from driving after that. (Hey, at least I was better than the kid who crashed the car into a convenience store!) Mr. M still allowed me to practice, but he no longer corrected me by yelling. So, I salute you Mr. M! It is because of you that I can drive a car today. No one in my family could teach me, but somehow you managed to do so. I’m glad I did not kill us all!
When I was in my Senior year of High School, I had grown weary of reading books about characters who did not look like me. We were required to write a research paper for our final assignment. I looked at the list of topics suggested to my entire class and all I saw were books by dead white men. I went up to Ms. Nicholson, my 12th grade teacher, and asked her if she could suggest a book for me to read and write about. My preference was to write a paper by someone who was black and woman. Ms. Nicholson, who I was terribly afraid of, took my request seriously and said, “You need to read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
I immediately fell in love with Janie Crawford Killicks Starks Woods. This book changed everything for me: I both enjoyed and identified with Hurston’s working-class community she met in the Everglades, and I appreciated being a witness to Janie’s growth into a woman who learned the importance of choosing love and not allowing others and circumstances to choose a partner for her.
I fell in love with Hurston’s writing and, because of Ms. Nicholson, I still read this book every so often. I look forward to the day that I can give my daughter her own copy.
So, 2Dope readers, do you have a teacher who made a lasting impact on your life? If so, we’d love to hear about it.