I was all set to write about Mr. Benanti who still ranks as my #1 favorite teacher of all time, but today I want to share the story of another teacher. He was my teacher one Friday afternoon in my last class of the day. I don't remember what he specifically taught...and to this day I don't even know his name.
When we moved back to the U.S. at the beginning of high school, I was enrolled in a new school in the middle of the December. I was painfully shy, and terribly homesick for the life I had in Vicenza, Italy. And because classes were overfilled, the guidance counselor stuck me in a drama class.
Me. In drama class. With 28 loud, dramatic students who had known each other since kindergarten. Every single day I dreaded that class.
One Friday afternoon the drama teacher announced that we would be having a guest speaker: a Shakespearean actor from a company performing at our local college. When he walked into the classroom all the girls sighed. He was tall, blond, very, very handsome, and quoted Shakespeare. Thinking back on it today, I suppose he looked a little like John Tesh.
I was so enthralled listening to him...that is, right until the moment he asked for a volunteer. My heart stopped beating. Twenty-eight enthusiastic hands shot up into the air while I mentally pleaded, Please-please-please don't pick me.
The Shakespearean actor looked around, walked all the way to the back of the classroom, took my hand, and escorted me to a small stage in front of the classroom.
Amazingly, I didn't have to say a word. He was speaking of body language on stage and wanted the class to help stage/direct us. So he sat me turned away from him and asked the class how he could get my attention. Following directions from the other students he walked around me and sat facing me; he took me by the shoulders to make a point; he gently put his hand on my chin and turned my head to face him.
At the end of the lesson he took my hand as I stepped down from the stage. He escorted me back to my seat, and in a very Shakespearean gesture dramatically kissed my hand as a thank you.
To this day I still remember that moment. A handsome actor, teaching Shakespeare for one hour to some high school students, did a miraculous thing for a quiet, lonely, terribly shy teenager. He helped transform her from someone who was pleading please, please don't pick me, to someone who later walked out of that classroom thinking HE PICKED ME!
(Note: Today's homage to great teachers is hosted by Laura at Catholic Teacher Musings. Check out her site for other beautiful stories on inspirational teachers, and/or leave a link with her to share one of your own. Have you hugged a teacher today?)