Recalling great teachers
In regards to the Mix article “Illustrating gratitude on the page and in life” in the Dec. 31 & Jan. 7 issue: As a middle-schooler, I signed up for play production with a teacher named Ms. Thrasher. Ms. Thrasher knew how to love her students and mold them into the roles they would play. Ms. Thrasher spent many hours working with us on different scenarios. That year, our improv group of four made the finals of the Los Angeles City talent show.
At our 20-year high school reunion, three members of the improv group had made careers out of acting. As for myself, my first career was as a coach and teacher, following in Ms. Thrasher’s footsteps. I found I loved working with youth and youthful thinkers. I loved watching the students’ eyes light up when they grasped a concept that was previously unknown. But what I became most grateful for was that when life threw me some adult-sized challenges, I was able to improvise accordingly!
My parents and I immigrated to Buffalo, N.Y., from Canada. During my years of schooling, my parents tried to brainwash me about what I should be doing as the first member of our family to get a college education. I was told I should become a doctor, a lawyer, or “at least” a CPA.
At Brooklyn College, I went to a play production tryout and hung in there as they began making technical assignments like stage manager. When the technical director called out, “Who will work on the lighting?,” I leaped up and said, “I will do that!”
In one play, I wanted to use projections. Bill Hatch, my talented tech director, always said, “If you can think of it, you can make one.”
Research on projected scenery gave me an idea, and I built several projectors that fulfilled my designs. It was Brooklyn College that prepared me for my career as a lighting consultant. A good educator can achieve much if they give a student the guidance and encouragement that keeps them growing.
Howard M. Brandston