Shana Galen
Shana Galen


Best Of, Shana Galen

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Most of the kids are back in school now. My daughter has been back to school for almost a month. She’s in first grade now and a pro at the whole school thing (or so she thinks). All summer long she waited anxiously to find out who her first grade teacher would be. She really wanted one particular teacher, and when I asked why, she said it was because that teacher is nice and pretty. It doesn’t take a lot to impress elementary kids.


My daughter didn’t get that teacher, but she was happy with the one she got because her teacher has long hair. She’s also nice and pretty, but the long hair clinched it. I don’t remember ever caring about my teachers’ hair or if they were pretty or not. In 7th grade I did have a male teacher who was good looking. His name was Coach Mali, and I think his looks were more distracting than helpful.

Every kid wants a nice teacher, though. My favorite teacher was also one of the nicest. Her name was Mrs. Fannett, and she taught eleventh grade English. The class was not easy. Mrs. Fannett was not easy. We had to learn about infinitives and gerunds (something I never understood until I taught 10th grade English myself!) and read books like The Scarlet Letter and Faulkner’s The Bear. Now I love a lot of classic literature. I adore Shakespeare and Dickens, and I like Twain too. I did not, and never will, love Hawthorne and Faulkner. I respect those authors and their talent, but they’re just downers. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Hemingway.


But somehow Mrs. Fannett made those books accessible. Somehow she got me to read them and, if not enjoy them, understand them. She pushed me to be a better writer. She pushed me to find a better word, a more descriptive phrase, a more complex sentence. Writing was always one of my best subjects. I could get an A with very little effort. Mrs. Fannett made me want the A+.

When I taught middle and high school English I tried to be a teacher like Mrs. Fannett. I don’t know if I succeeded. The most frequent comment students gave me was about how calm I was.

Hmm. Well, I guess calm is a compliment of sorts, considering some of the chaotic places I taught. I would have preferred inspiring or fascinating, but kids tell us the truth, not what we want to hear. Maybe if my hair had been longer?

Do you have a favorite teacher? Or maybe your kids had a great teacher. What made him or her so great?

28 thoughts on “The Best Teachers

  1. Dawn A says:

    I had a lot of good teachers, but one of my favorites was a college history professor. This professor made me want to learn about Colonial American history, which was a miracle, and even though the class was difficult, I strove to make good grades. I had never cared about early American history before, now I still like to learn as much as I can.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I love teachers like that. I wish I had a teacher who made me like American history more.

  2. Kate Sparks says:

    I had a history/social studies/government teacher my senior year who taught his classes like we were in college… no hounding reminders about stuff being due. Treated us like adults.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      That’s great, and I bet most of the students behaved more like adults.

  3. Lisa Hutson says:

    I had a lot of good teachers. But at the moment, not one particular comes to mind. A few of my kids teachers were great. And my granddaughter has had a couple really great teachers.
    I definitely list teaching, especially grade school teaching, as one of the hardest, most demanding, nearly impossible jobs there are.
    I always think our public school system has taken some very wrong turns. The money in the system is poorly spent. The people up high in the system make too much money.
    You should never expect to become very well off financially in the public school system. Especially outside of the classroom. There are too many kids in each classroom. The teachers have too little help. Too much is asked of them day to day. They have very little back up, especially in the line of parents.
    And I know this isn’t what your post asked. haha Sorry.
    But it just made me realize that teachers are only human after all. And the stress and pressure may be keeping fewer and fewer great teachers in the classroom.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Your comment isn’t what I asked, but I think it’s relevant, Lisa. Teaching is a hard job, so when someone does it really well, even knowing they won’t be financially compensated, that’s something to celebrate. Are you sure teachers are human? I had middle school students see me out at a store with my mom once, and they were shocked I had a mother. Wait, teachers have PARENTS?

  4. Sara McLaughlin says:

    My thoughts are calm is good Shana! I have seen a few teachers forced to take a leave of absence or retire early. Definitely not calm! I have two favorite teachers whom I will always remember. Even a mentor that I will never forget. The first teacher to really connect with me was brand new at our school and ended up going back to middle school in time for us to have her again. Mrs. Entwhistle, one of the best! I have over the years heard a few people say bad things about her but they were not happy to do the work to receive the grade. She made reading more interesting. Prizes for reading and the ability to read aloud interestingly. It was fun to be in school that year. When I had her again I was so exstatic! She nurtured our love of nature and animals. She tried to engage even the most sullen members of the class. She made you feel as though your thoughts really mattered to her. I had a few teachers I have loved over the years but she was my favorite. Favorite in college would tell other kids to follow my example and listen when I talk. He saw in me potential I did not so much over look as not use. I miss him a lot. I was often praised for my recall abilities and quick mind over ghe years, he made sure I shared with others these ideas rather than being insular and isolated. Different teachers, same feelings!!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Love the prizes for making reading aloud interesting. I think my daughter would get a prize for that. I have a high tolerance level. So I can put up with a lot before I get angry. I think that’s why God gave me Princess Galen. She needed a parent with a lot of patience.

  5. Sharlene Wegner says:

    I can remember a couple of really mean, cranky teachers in elementary school, back in the dark ages. LOL. My favorite teacher was my world lit teacher in high school. I think that class was what made my decision to major in literature in college. He was soft spoken, but passionate about the subject. He also had a great sense of humor. We covered a lot of reading in half a year.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Passionate goes a long way with teachers. If they love something, so do their students.

  6. Amy says:

    I remember good teachers my son has had more than my own. He had some very good ones in his first years of primary school and they did a good job of taking over mothering him during the hours away from me. He benefited from “seasoned” teachers that had many years under their belt. Every single one of his first six teachers retired either the year he had them, or within two years after. In retrospect, maybe I should wonder about the extent that my son’s class wore these people out!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      LOL! I bet they were just ready to retire. I could never make it as an elementary school teacher.

  7. Florine Kreeb says:

    My favorite teacher was Miss Lander who taught 11th and 12th grade English. She made me think of a better word, encouraged me to write and she loved the written word so much that she made us all love her class. I thank her for all the encouragement.

  8. Annette Naish says:

    Mrs. Miller in second grade and her daughter Miss Miller in 4th grade. They were kind to me when I needed kindness. But, I think the best was Mrs. Elizabeth Enlow in junior and senior English. I learned to appreciate writers who I would never really like. (Shana, I have never understood the appeal of Hemingway.) She made me feel bright. I entered a city wide contest and won a prize that included a special dinner and tickets for my parents and my teacher. I was over the moon when she actually came to the dinner so I could show her my appreciation. She loved what she did and it showed every day. I had many good teachers, but those 3 women were my favorites.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Love that story, and how cool that mother and daughter were teachers at the same school.

  9. Susan Gorman says:

    I remember Mrs. Hunter my first grade teacher. She was very kind and never raised her voice. I was sick a lot in first grade and had pneumonia near the Christmas holidays. She made me a Christmas ornament with my name on it. I hang it on my tree every year and think of her!

  10. girlfromwva says:

    Mrs. Penquite was my 1st grade teacher; loved her because she was very nice to me. i didn’t go to kindergarten, i was always home with my Mom before starting school, and i was extremely shy. So Mrs. Penquite put me at ease as much as she could. I had Miss Diskete in 5th grade, and i loved her because she had short hair, very pretty & she gave me a love for reading. She had entered me in a MS read-a-thon and i ended up reading the most books that year in our school.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      So my daughter is not the only one who cares about hair! I wish I could be in a MS read-a-thon.

  11. says:

    I definitely had some favorites and I had favorites of my daughter’s teachers. Those that seem to really care about your child – you always know!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Yes, you can always tell when the teacher cares.

  12. Julie-ann Ford says:

    I had many wonderful teachers but my most memorable was my 6th grade math teacher. Up until 6th grade I attended private school but went to public school in 6th. I was so far ahead of the other students that they had to send to junior high for a book for me. Every day Mr. Morris would put 10 problems on the board just for me (the other students freaked out when they saw them). I was in and out of the hospital a lot that year and Mr. Morris would come visit me and bring me work to do. I loved him for it because I was bored senseless.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      So nice that he came to visit you in the hospital. I had a student in 8th grade who had to go into the hospital and all her teachers (Math, Science, Reading, Social Studies, and English–me) went to visit her. Why wouldn’t we? What that teacher did was differentiation, probably doing stuff before his time.

  13. Outlander Pam says:

    We moved every year until I went to high school, so I can barely remember my schools, let alone the teachers’ names. But under those trying circumstances of a bright student always trying to fit in, my favorite teachers were ones that let me excel at my own pace and didn’t try to fit a round peg into a square hole.

    Needless to say, as an adult, when I became a High School teacher, I tried to actually “see” each student as the unique individual that they were. And also each lesson plan used at least 3 of the 4 ways of learning…hearing, seeing, verbal, physical. And most of the time, it was all 4! (no child left behind, and all that 🙂 ).

    Which just goes to prove that God doesn’t waste any of our experiences. Everything is for a purpose. Pass on the love!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I bet you were an awesome teacher because it is no small task to cover all those learning styles with each lesson.

  14. Eileen A-W says:

    I had a number of teachers in high school who helped me find myself. I walked to school each morning and often met up with one of the Biology teachers. We would walk together and talk. My junior year my math teacher was married to my English. My English teacher tok me under her wing and saw leadership traits that my shyness often hid. Between her & her husband my confidence soared that year. My senior math teacher was a man I knew since 9th grade. He was influencial in my becoming a math teacher. He saw that I was good at helping others and explaining topics. He helped me convince my stubborn dad who didn’t think I was smart enough to be a math major.

    I taught middle and high school for 37 years after graduating college. I found that one of the reasone the students loved me was because I saw them. That meant I noticed new haircuts, new outfits, moods, etc. I observed and commented. I was empathetic and caring. They knew that they mattered to me more than just as a student. I was determined to help them realize they too could do math. That math was not impossible. I joked that I de-mythified math for them.

    In all those years I never asked on of my 4 children’s teachers to do more than anything I would do. It was those teachers who were like me that are still remembered by my kids. The ones who were just there to teach were tolerated, but not remembered as being well liked. The ones who wouldn’t do anything extra also were not appreciated.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      You sound like you were a great teacher. I will never understand why people who 1) don’t like kids or 2) don’t want to have to get up and do anything become teachers. Teaching is hard work and important work. The most important sometimes.

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