Thank a Teacher

On this  night before a new school year is about to start and the summer vacation and family visits are memories,  I was thinking about why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.

I’m writing and posting these photos to pay tribute to wonderful teachers in my life.

In the 3rd grade I had an excellent teacher Grace Wagner from Dravosburg PA  who taught at Winchester- Thurston.   I found an alumni listing online Indiana PA Teachers College class of 1920.  Unfortunately I  can’t find the photo I have of her but plan to unearth it and post someday soon.  Who wouldn’t love a teacher who wrote this about their student.  I found it tonight in an envelope addressed to my parents, inside a deteriorating leather scrapbook.  Isn’t her handwriting beautiful? I am so grateful I discovered this report tonight before  school starts.  “she is able to put her gifts to good use” she wrote.  I feel encouraged once again as I hear her voice as I read the words she wrote in 1960-1961

Miss Wagner marked a 1 ( outstanding) for Play Spirit on the report card.   They don’t have that category on report cards anymore.


School Report




And here is Winona Stewart from Morris Plains Borough School in New Jersey.

Winona Stewart

In the sixth grade and also in the 7th and 8th grade I had a most wonderful teacher- Winona Stewart.  We had a Roman Banquet and she read The Human Comedy by William Saroyan aloud after lunch, and also The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford.  Every week we memorized a poem and recited it- The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth is one I remember well.   I took this photo of Mrs. Steward in 1966, the year I graduated from 8th grade.  When I lived in Germany and my own kids were young in the early 80’s, I found an address and wrote her a thank you note and told her how I remembered her reading aloud to our class and how she influenced my choice to get a Masters in Reading.  She wrote a beautiful note back to me and one of these days I bet I unearth it, too.  She collaborated with the next teacher I am going to mention.  We did a show called The Curse of Ra  as we learned about Egypt making a gold sarcophagus of papier mache and I was a dancing girl.  It all seemed so exciting and wonderful and fun!

Mr G.  is why I wanted to be an art teacher.  I had him in grade school AND High School.  I didn’t try to contact him soon enough as he was deceased when I though of it.

Arthur W Guenther.  He produced a movie with our 4th grade class called Around the World in 90 Minutes. I was from the Netherlands and we used real wooden shoes in the tulips.   I got a bit part in the French segment too, standing by a Kiosk, chatting away.  I remember Starr Kenyon went down the slide as if skiing.  Titi Moglia wore a kimono and had a fan and there were pink tissue paper cherry blossoms.  I wish I could see the movie again.

When I think of all his creativity,  I am in awe.

Mr. Guenther danced on Broadway in the show South Pacific with Mary Martin and showed us his scrapbook,

Arthur Guenther


Around the World in 90 Minutes

Mr. Guenther helped finish the monochrome portrait of me in 4th period oil painting class.  It hangs in my bathroom.

My granddaughter Anna asked this past week, “Why are you all green?:  and I started thinking about Mr Guenther and how he inspired me.

And here I am tonight, wondering if I can inspire someone as I start my new classes.


Ruth HEndricks Portrait



My father, Roy J. Hendricks (b. 1912-d.2002) was a teacher in a one room school in Illinois

Roy Hendricks Teacher




My mother Marian VanSickle (b. 1912- d. 2000)  was a teacher in a one room school in Illinois  That is my mom in the back row on the left.

Marian VanSickle


What teacher inspired you?



30 thoughts on “Thank a Teacher

  1. Ruth, you are amazing! Your teacher, Grace Wagner really understood you. You always have and continue to put your gifts to good use. Your students are indeed lucky to have you in their young lives. A lovely posting!

  2. Reblogged this on Flickr Comments and commented:
    frizztext: dear Ruth, you’ve written a heart touching tribute to your teachers! And you inspired me to mention at least one name for a first step (there could be many others): Dr. Elmar Bozetti. He opened the door for me into the world of blues and gospel music – and he made me write my first essays about philosophers (you bought my book, thanks!)

  3. I really need to be somewhere else but then I read your post and I just had to answer.
    Not in any order but….. The bloke who lived next door to me when I was growing up, Mr Norris. He was a Primary school principal and he liked and encouraged me…….. no idea why, used to call me Joe, which is not my name. I wanted to do what he did so I put my hand up to study teaching. A lot of the cool stuff I achieved he missed out on as he died as I was just getting started.
    My 3rd Grade teacher who’s name escapes me. I went from dead last to top of the class because she knew how to engage us/me. She had to leave because her husband got sick and I went back to dead last and disengaged.
    A couple of my high school teachers [all Marist Brothers] but one in particular who had the bravery to put on a production of The Pirates of Penzance with a bunch of year 10 boys at a very rough and tough all boys school in the 1960s in a working class suburb in Melbourne which was then an arts desert!
    He never taught any of my classes other than this play [I was a pirate] and I forgot all about him until he popped up in a reading I was having with a famous local medium. I could not place him for a couple of days and then the penny dropped…… he had an unusual name and as rarely happens in readings he mentioned it…. Cyril, Brother Cyril…… Marist brothers take a saints name when they are ordained…… he must have cringed when they gave him Cyril. In the reading he said that he was pleased to be a part of my upbringing and he envied me my freedom to choose. I guess he didn’t have a lot of choices when he was alive……. I have to say that this encounter was very cool indeed. How often do you get a message from one of your old teachers…… from the other side!!!!!

  4. I guess the teacher that most influenced me was a college professor at Duquesne. I had already decided to be a special education teacher by then but Miss Rocceritto helped me accomplish my goal. By the way Ruth E -that was a beautiful dedication to teachers!

  5. Ruth,

    This was wonderful. It seems as though your 3rd grade teacher really knew what she was talking about! I think most people who like to learn and like to read were influenced by at least one wonderful teacher along with the way.

  6. A wonderful post for just before the start of a new school year!
    Miss Wagner sure did have lovely handwriting too.
    Nice shared memories & photos 🙂
    I was lucky to have had some great teachers in the mix of my education.

  7. Awwwww. This made me kinda teary, especially the hand written note! We need to keep this alive! Mrs Ulmer inspired me in English in the 4th grade. I still remember her sweater and brooches . Great post Ruth Ella : )

  8. What a wonderful post, Ruth, and fine tribute to a number of memorable teachers. Your Mother doesn’t look much older than the oldest member of her class. I don’t think you need wonder whether you’ll inspire any student(s), Ruth. I’m quite sure you already have and will continue to do so..

  9. One of the most touching tributes I’ve read. I enjoyed every photo and word. Have a wonderful school year with your high school students.

  10. The tribute to your teachers was very touching. I loved to read how they involved the students in the learning and used such wonderful, non traditional ways to educate!! I think of our current teachers going back to school and struggling to empower our children with knowledge to pass the Standards of Learning (Va. stated mandated tests). We’ve lost the true ability to give children a love of learning and I only hope today’s children find it on their own. Bravo to you in the art class who can still hold onto some of that .

  11. A wonderful homage to all of the various teachers in your life. I have little doubt you already have (and will continue to) inspire so many people who come into your path – children and adults alike.

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