Readers write: Recalling great teachers

Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters/File
A student writes on a blackboard in a classroom at the Loyola Cultural Centre in Agoe-Nyive, a suburb of Lomé, Togo, on April 15, 2013.

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!

Why We Wrote This

Letters to the editor for the March 11, 2019 weekly magazine.

Roy Gessford

San Diego

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

Hollowville, N.Y.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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