Tales From A Hungry Life

July 5, 2012

12 Things My Teachers Taught Me

Filed under: Family,Food,food, family, fun, laughter,Teachers,Uncategorized — talesfromahungrylife @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , , ,

by Maria Schulz

Now that Summer is in full swing, it got me to thinking about everything teachers do for us. I know I could never handle the day-in and day-out life of a teacher, what with the crying, backstabbing, and childish demands that go on every day. And that’s just from the parents and administrators.

Are some teachers lazy or terrible at their jobs? Of course! But most teachers deserve our admiration and not our anger.

What is 24 x 4???

We look at Asian countries and say, “Why can’t we replicate their success?” Well, we can, but first we would have to revere and honor our teachers, instead of attacking and blaming them.

Besides teaching children their academics, teachers help us learn things about ourselves, others, and our place in the world. So, with that thought in mind, I thought I’d share the best things I learned from my teachers.

The Top 12 Things My Teachers Taught Me

The circus is fun!

1. It’s easy to be kind. Back in kindergarten, my teacher decided to have us put on a circus. Everyone was very excited and got to work making their masks. Unlike my classmates, I was not in the least bit artistic, so my elephant mask was a wreck. The trunk didn’t stick out, the ears were all wrong, and it looked more like a giant rat’s head then an elephant’s head. Since my mask was a disaster, I decided to sit the parade out. I was pretty sad about it. But miracle of miracles, Ms. Coblenz saw me struggling and on the day of the parade, she handed me a perfect mask. “Is this mask yours?” she said, and winked at me. “It is now,” I replied, and joined the parade. She didn’t change the world that day—but she sure changed mine.

2. Life can be an adventure if you stop hiding. When Sister Barbara came to take me away from my mother and brother at orientation on the first day of 1st grade, I screamed like she was a Nazi prison camp guard and I was that kid in Sophie’s Choice. I think you can still hear the shrieking in the halls today.

Sister Barbara held my hand and guided me down the hall to our classroom. She had to be my eyes since I was hiding my face in my sleeve. Sister led me to my desk, where I promptly buried my head in my hands and sobbed. Sister B. just patted my head gently and went about her business.

Eventually, she got to my name on the attendance list, saying “Mary Anne Legoliati?” I stopped crying long enough to correct her. “It’s Maria Lagalante. Not Mary Anne and NOT Legoliatti.”

“Oh, thanks for teaching me your name. Welcome to my class!” she said, with a big smile.

I stopped crying and looked around. Some people looked as terrified as me and some looked thrilled to be there. Sister Barbara kept showing us all the great things about our class: the big blackboard, the erasers that two lucky kids got to go outside and clap, and the doors that slid open so that we could join the class next door. That was where my brother Chris was, and I missed him sorely.

Sister Barbara made everything an adventure, whether we were learning our ABCs or making new friends. She was kind and patient and the perfect 1st grade teacher for a terrified little kid like me.

3. Be Prepared. And Wear Socks. Mrs. Heaphy taught me to always come prepared, no matter what. That’s because she ran the School’s supply closet, where you were sent when you had the nerve to enter school without your marble notebook or #2 pencil. If you had to buy something from her, it cost about 300% more then going to Coronette’s down on Bell Blvd. That’s because Mrs. Heaphy marked everything up at Black Market prices.

These are going to cost you

I also learned the importance of always wearing socks since she embarrassed my brother when he showed up without them.

4. Too Much of a Good Thing Is Usually Bad. Mrs. McGovern was a really fun 2nd grade teacher. But by the time she became my 4th and 5th grade teacher, she was as sick of us as we were of her. You always knew who her favorites were going to be (not me) and what kind of projects and tests you were in for. By the time we got to the 5th grade, the boys weren’t dropping their pencils on the floor to peer up her mini skirt anymore. We had seen it all.

5. Some People Just Seem Rotten. I was afraid of Sister Clara for many reasons. One, she looked like she could take me out with a beefy right hook. Two, she liked to constantly threaten to box my ears. And three, she reduced my class of 10-year-olds to spineless puddles by saying, “you might go home for lunch today and find your mother and father dead.”

I think her point was that we should cherish the people we love every moment of the day. Unfortunately, most of the kids in my class just thought she knew something we didn’t.

The Summer after her premonition, I rode past the library and saw Sister Clara struggling to stack books on the shelves. She had fallen behind the boiler and broken her arm. (why you had to walk through the boiler room and into the library I was never sure, but I’m surprised none of us kids ever got burned or trapped). She had a cast on up to her elbow, so I stopped in and asked if she needed help.

“Why yes! Thank you!”

I spent the next week helping her clean and organize the library. Sister Clara was actually a very sweet, gracious lady with a good sense of humor. I couldn’t believe this was the same person who scared the daylights out of me during the school year.

6. Some people just stink. Sister Margaret taught me that some people are not interested in being fair or making school fun, and only want to share their misery with you.  And most definitely, some people should never be teachers.

7. Believe in yourself, even when some people don’t. One of my Catholic school English teachers was never really a fan of my writing style. I would work hard on projects and think they were sure A’s, and get them back with comments like “I can see you worked very hard on this. Good job. C+.” I have to thank her though, because it just made me work harder.

8. Life is better when cake is involved.  Let me preface this by saying that I liked Sister Felicity. However, being in her class was like having a large Pit Bull up front with a habit on. You never knew when Sister was going to succumb to an avalanche of rage and you were going to be caught in her unrelenting jaws.

Soothes the savage beast

However, I cracked the code when I discovered that she loved cake. Lots and lots of cake! I used to bake and bring cake up to school all the time. Chocolate cake, pound cake, strawberry shortcake, cupcakes. You name the cake, I probably baked it and brought it up to Sister Pit Bull.

Cake made her smile, which was definitely an improvement. It sure beat getting sent to sit alone in the closet or being dragged out into the hall to get yelled at by all of my other teachers.

9. Always leave them laughing. My high school biology teacher taught me the importance of a sense of humor. Most of what he taught was dry and dull, but he always broke me up. If he took us to lab class and asked us to sniff sulfur, one of us would invariably say, “This smells!” and he would reply, “No, you smell. This stinks!”

Early on in the year, we realized that he was dressing differently on the day of his tests. In fact, the more dressed up he was, the harder the test was going to be. Flannel shirt and cowboy boots? Easy test. Suit and tie? Hard test. When he came in on the day of our Final dressed in a tuxedo, I thought my classmates and I would keel over.

10. Expect Respect. Miss Mackey taught me how to set high standards and lay down the law with a room full of arrogant honors students. She came down hard on anyone who defied her in the early days, and then loosened up later on. She allowed us to reign ourselves in and always treat her and the other teachers with respect. She even let us think it was our idea.

11. Demand more of yourself then anyone else. Along with a deep appreciation for beautiful writing and how to hone a razor sharp wit, Mr. Brodsky taught me how to succeed in any situation. Never miss a deadline. Never turn in junk. Never be afraid to use your sense of humor at any and all times, but be kind and caring as well.


12. Let your critics help you. My Catholic school experience left me believing that I had no talent in any area and even less possibilities open to me. But then I met Mr. Reines, my 9th and 10th grade English teacher. He insisted that I should only listen to my critics to take what I could use, and discard the rest.

When I think back to that utterly confusing time in my life, I see his smiling face and remember what it was to like to finally feel like my hard work would pay off. He was my guardian angel those years, getting me into contests and attending my awards nights, writing college recommendations for me, and helping me win college scholarships since he knew money was tight.

Besides teaching me how to love books, think critically and write cogently, he taught me how to become a better person through his example. As I became friends with him during what would be his last years, my little world opened up—and I will never forget him.


Angel Food Cake with Amaretto Berries

Don’t forget the whipped cream and amaretto

Did someone say cake? Normally, I’m a chocolate cake all the way girl, but recently I made an angel food cake with berries (and Amaretto) that I think even Sister Pit Bull would enjoy!

Angel Food Cake (boxed, scratch or bakery—your choice!)





Any berries you like

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons Amaretto

¼ tablespoon vanilla

¼ cup Confectioners’ Sugar

Whipped Cream

Cut up berries and place in bowl. Add all liquid ingredients; add sugar. Place berry sauce in refrigerator until ready to serve cake (a couple of hours should do it). If you prepared the cake, wait to serve until cool. Then pour berry mixture over the cake. Add whipped cream. You could also make this into a fancy dessert by alternating layers of cake, amaretto berries and whipped cream in a parfait glass. Enjoy!

So Hungry Lifers, here’s my question to you: what did your favorite (or least favorite) teacher help you discover? Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. This is a great post! I love what you wrote about your teachers, it makes me think about mine and how important they were in shaping my own outlook of the world.

    Comment by msperfectpatty — July 5, 2012 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for leaving a comment! I’m so glad you liked my post. I just started following your blog too!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 5, 2012 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  2. And then you found Mr. Reines was a school mate of your father’s. However they didn’t hang out in the same crowd. He was an honor student, on Arista and all that while your father was in the Band and less than that. He graduated with honors while your father snuck out when no-one was looking. However there were four teachers in your Father’s life that had great impact and helped change his life forever. One in grade school, one in high school, one in Undergrad and one in Graduate School,
    Great post!

    Comment by Bglou — July 5, 2012 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

    • Of course I have had a lot of wonderful teachers in my life, some of whom never got paid for anything they taught me. My mother and father, grandparents, and extended family come to mind. Isn’t it funny that my father, mother & Mr. Reines went to school together? Maybe that’s why I liked him immediately!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 5, 2012 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  3. Great post.

    The story of Sister Clara and her premonitions had me in stitches!

    Thank you for your writing.

    Comment by TC — July 6, 2012 @ 7:34 am | Reply

    • Thank you for always reading my blog! I am still laughing just thinking about Sister Clara. She was truly a character!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 6, 2012 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  4. Sister Mary Ann ! She was a nightmare for me ! Mrs. Johnson was my favorite !

    Comment by Cindy Byrnes McDonnell — July 6, 2012 @ 7:50 am | Reply

    • I don’t remember Sister Mary Ann but I do remember Mrs. Johnson. You mean someone didn’t like you? I can’t believe that!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 6, 2012 @ 10:15 am | Reply

  5. Thanks Maria! I get so excited when I see that you wrote something. I can always visualize everything so clearly. I don’t think our children could ever really understand what a catholic school experience really was like. When I tell my kids stories I think they think I’m making it up. You got me thinking about what I learned. Hmmm, sister Electa in the 2 nd grade taught me to memorize my multiplication tables or get hit with a fly swatter. Mrs. Bails taught in the 3rd grade that too much perfume could cause severe headaches and that pulling ears was a form of punishment for missed homework. In the 8th grade sister Mary Bernard taught me to hate nuns. She loved to put the boys over her knee if they came back disheveled from recess. I swear she went into the church and prayed that they would play football.. She was gross. I did love sr. Joanita, 4th grade. She taught me the power of the green scapula. ( i dont know its real name)It had a prayer on it that she told us to say 3x a day. If we did this and stored our prayers up we could cash them in one day and cure people. She was right. I prayed 6x a day and when I had years of prayers saved up I was able to cure my cousins father ‘s brain cancer, I know what your thinking but his doctor was not that good. She was a beautiful teacher and we shared a birthday. I always thought she was about 80 years old until my sister recently told me she was in her twenties.

    Comment by Suzanne — July 6, 2012 @ 8:34 am | Reply

    • Sister Electra? Now there’s a great name! I’m sorry Suzanne, but you haven’t fully lived until you’ve been smacked over the head with a yardstick. It explains a lot about me. Can you please get out your green scapula and start praying for me? My back and foot hurt! Plus I’d like to win the lottery. Please work on that. I always love your comments because you play along! I wish you were with me back then…we would’ve had a blast!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 6, 2012 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  6. Maria, I laughed and cried ! I so enjoy reading your work. I need to get my hands on a hard copy. I love my books, you know, with pages and stuff,lol! I will definitely share this. I hope that I have touched the lives of my students the way that my teachers touched mine. I love what I do so much. I can’t tell you how depressing it is to wake up almost everyday for the past ten years to hear how bad teachers are. You are right,some should not be in the profession for sure . Anyway, I’ll stop here. Keep ’em coming Maria. Love you ! Betsy

    Comment by Betsy Kotsogiannis — July 6, 2012 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

    • Hi Betsy! I always appreciate how hard you teachers work for our kids. I am working on my book and hope to have an e-book AND a real hold-it-in-your-hands book before Summer is over! Thanks for always reading my blog. By the way, how come you didn’t talk about your favorite band teacher? LOL

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 6, 2012 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  7. Love this installment, Mary Anne…uh…Maria! LOL!!! “you might go home for lunch today and find your mother and father dead.” LOL! Only a nun could get away with that. Could you imagine the lawsuit and headlines if a teacher said that today? And having to pass by the boiler to get to the library? LOL! Now that I look back on the the crazy things that happened in Catholic school, it’s all pretty hilarious. I think the entire Pit Bull family became nuns. I can remember two. 🙂 As always, I love your writing, Maria.

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — July 6, 2012 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Darlene! I am on my way next to leave comments on your latest post too. You always inspire me and make me laugh! The perfect combo. You know the funniest part about that day? I didn’t think what she said was all that outrageous. While my classmates sat and cried, I kept trying to console them by saying helpful things like, “you know, she said MIGHT be dead. Not ‘your parents ARE dead.’ Besides, I knew my father left early for work, so I wouldn’t be finding him at home. But I was really sweating it out until I saw my mother at lunch! Thanks again for always reading my blog and commenting.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 7, 2012 @ 10:41 am | Reply

  8. I could use a few tips from ms Mackey. If you figure out how she got a classroom to respect her – write the “how-to” steps for me. Thanks.

    Comment by Plawrence — July 6, 2012 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

    • I believe Ms. Mackey used threats and intimidation, along with swift retribution. She didn’t smile or care if we liked her and had no problem being the bad guy. It worked on us!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 7, 2012 @ 10:43 am | Reply

  9. Just stopped by and I am so glad I did.I also went to a church school and so did my children.It brought back some memories and I am still laughing.My oldest daughter is a KDG teacher now and I get plenty of stories from her also.I think Children of the Heavenly Father will be going through my head all night!

    Comment by lexiesnana — July 7, 2012 @ 12:37 am | Reply

    • Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad it made you laugh and you enjoyed it. I have written many more posts about my tortured school existence as well as family and fun times. I hope you stop by again, and thanks for leaving a comment!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 7, 2012 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  10. […] Ek-ek-ek12 Things My Teachers Taught Me […]

    Pingback by Transform Your Day With a Few Words | Parenting Special Needs — July 14, 2012 @ 8:18 pm | Reply

  11. Hi Maria! I love number 1 and number 8. Number 1 is definitely the “reward” for teaching. In today’s teaching climate there is very little else that holds us in. Number 8, cracking my code would be the occasional dunkin’ donut that a child brings in… it’s a perk! You had me laughing throughout, great commentary!

    Comment by Anne — July 28, 2012 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  12. Well this was a great advertisement for Catholic School. I like how you emphasized the importance of the early grades with having compasionate teachers. This is so important because a bad teacher in kindergarten can set the tone for 12 years.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — July 31, 2012 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: