Friday, May 26, 2017

Teachers are people too

As another school year is coming to an end I thought back on the teachers I have known who stand out in my mind. Today I am sharing a story I wrote several years ago about a teacher who is now retired and is living in Hawaii with her husband. Sometimes I don't think students/parents realize that teachers are people too, but they are.

Each day is a series of tests with no right or wrong answers. Education is not limited to books. It is found in every aspect of everyday life. Positive teachers who teach from their heart and risk sharing their personal experiences with their students are rare. Grants High School is extremely fortunate to have such a teacher. Loriann offers classes in government, economics and global studies.

She was transplanted in New Mexico in 1967 via Hawaii, California and New York. Born in Kauai, Hawaii, Loriann was raised by her maternal grandparents from a very young age. Her grandfather was Old World and  severely strict. When he was around she sat up straight and paid attention. When he wasn't she ran wild in the surf.

Her mother was very well educated and was an essential part of the war effort in World War II. She held a position as an interpreter at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Loriann was influenced by her ancestral Asian culture, which stresses strong family values.

Her first career choice was to be a missionary in Africa. Her second was the Peace Corps. Loriann's family wanted her to teach. Back then women who wanted a career chose either teaching or nursing.

She said, "I didn't want to do shift work, so I became a teacher".

Her parents moved to California to get settled. She joined them three years later. Loriann has two younger brothers and a sister. At twenty-one she had her Master's Degree and was still living with her parents. Her mother decided it was time for her to leave home and pushed her out of the nest. She took a risk and moved to New York.

Working at a variety of jobs including eighteen years as a waitress, typing briefs, teaching at a prison and factory and cannery work paid for her education. She did anything to keep from failing and having to return home. She believes in universal values of good and bad, destiny and choice.

Loriann does not like to waste anything, especially her student's time. Before moving to Grants, she taught in Socorro, NM for three years and on the Magdalena Indian reservation for one year. She has taught for a total of thirty-nine years.

Her definition of a good teacher is stamina and never giving up finding something positive in every student, especially one she instantly dislikes. "It could be my fault", she said.

She believes every teacher is a link between the individual and the mega power status of the United states. She also believes ignorance is the greatest destructive force in anyone's life. Knowledge is like a bank of resources that allows a person to draw from when they need it. A favorite saying of hers is, "The more you know the less you fear".

A sign in her classroom states, Freedom isn't Free. When I asked about it she replied, "If you want freedom, you have to be willing to pay for it".

Loriann believes she would not move anywhere else, even for a high paying job. Because she has lived in many other places she has something to compare Grants to. She loves the sunshine, fresh air, Mt. Taylor, the diversity of the people, the nearby cultural attractions and mostly the wonderful kids. She returns to Hawaii each summer to keep in touch with her roots.

Her thirst for knowledge and her desire to pass it onto her students is like a dog that has been caught in a rainstorm.When the dog comes inside, anyone within a few feet radius is going to get wet, whether they want to or not. Loriann believes sometimes her students don't realize what they have learned until years later and they come back and tell her.That is when she is sure she is doing the work she is supposed to do.

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