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Musings and Memories

Teachers are heroes

Doug Dezotell
Posted 8/20/22

If you are reading this column…thank a teacher.

I am sitting here at my computer typing away at my keyboard…thanks to a teacher.

I remember the old drill when I started my typing …

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Musings and Memories

Teachers are heroes


If you are reading this column…thank a teacher.

I am sitting here at my computer typing away at my keyboard…thanks to a teacher.

I remember the old drill when I started my typing class many years ago in junior high school…

f j d k s l a ; f j d k s l a ; f j d k s l a….

The typing teacher at the front of the class repeating that over and over as the class typed away.

Teachers have influenced my life, really, my whole life long.

And I want to say, “Thank you!” to the many teachers who’ve taught me what I know, all that I remember, and all that stuff that I may have forgotten over the years.

My granddaughters just started back to school at the beginning of the month, and they are adjusting to new grade levels, and of course new teachers.

Charlie is an 8th grader this year; her last year in middle school. Kori is a 6th grader this year; her first year in middle school. And Jojo is now in the 4th grade; still in elementary school

Teachers have influenced all of my granddaughters young lives in so many different ways, and teachers have influenced all of our lives, yours and mine, and we should be grateful.

“Thanks Teach! You’re the greatest!”

One of the first jobs I had as a teenager was to be a teacher’s assistant for the local Head Start program in my home town of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Many of our students were the children of migrant workers that came north from Texas and Mexico to work on the farms and in the fields there in the Red River Valley.

English was a second language for those children, and I know it was a challenge for those little ones to learn to speak a foreign tongue.

It was a challenge for me to try to communicate with them as they started to learn my language.

I have never learned Spanish, but it would have come in handy back then.

That experience taught me how hard the job of a teacher was.

I began my early childhood education at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. My kindergarten teacher was Helen Tangen. Her husband and my mother were cousins.

Mrs. Tangen came by our house before my first day of school to make sure I’d know she was going to be my teacher.

She taught me a little game with my folded hands on that first visit. It goes like this, “This is the church, and this is the steeple, open the doors, and see all the people!”

(If you run into me in town, I’ll show you the hand motions. Maybe you know them already.)

Mrs. Tangen helped me learn my ABCs, and she helped me learn my numbers, and she taught me the Pledge of Allegiance, and she taught me to sing silly songs, and she helped me develop a greater love for books, and she helped me master the fine art of tying my shoes, and getting bundled up on my own in my snow pants and parka, my scarf and stocking cap and mittens and snow boots so we could go out and play on the snow banks in the playground outside the school.

(It was an English teacher who taught me what a ‘run-on sentence’ was.)

I have fond memories of many great teachers throughout the years. But, Helen Tangen got me started on the road toward higher education.

Mrs. Tangen passed away earlier this year at the age of 97.

And I believe she would have wanted me to say…she loved what she did for all those years, but I want to add this: teachers are undervalued and underpaid.

We all owe teachers so much more than the USA pays its educators. And I believe something needs to be done about that.

Teachers give so much of themselves. Most of them know it is their ‘calling.’ I know Mrs. Tangen did.

They pay for so much out of their own pockets. And I know that we can do better.

Teachers are leaving their ‘calling’ because they can’t afford to take care of their own children, and they look for another profession.

I am praying that something will happen to help the teachers who teach my granddaughters, and your grandchildren too.

I have a lot of respect for the men and women who take on the task of being our educators.

I know that much of what I am today I owe to those folks who taught me over the years: elementary school teachers, junior high school teachers, high school teachers, college professors and Bible college professors.

They are all heroes in my book.

Several years back, there was a CBS TV special dedicated to educators entitled, “Teachers Rock!”

And it reminded me of the many great influences I have had.

And I agree, Teachers Rock!


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