- Jan Risher

Starting school is exciting. For me, it's always been a time full of hope. What new friends, new adventures would occur in the coming months? What new teachers would I love? What new things would be learned? What games would be won or lost? What great stories would come to pass?
I am grateful for years of great school years, great friends and great teachers. Of course, there were a few duds along the way. But even the duds made for great stories. Like the 6th grade teacher who burped in front of the class every day after lunch and then told us what she was burping (gross, but true). Or the 9th grade history teacher who came to school with a terrible hangover every Monday and slept at his desk through class. This stuff was pure story gold — and growing up in a family of storytellers made me appreciate the crazy, even as it was happening. Sometimes I’d sit in class and think to myself, “Oh, I can’t wait to tell Uncle David this one.”

And then there were the other teachers, the ones who continue to influence my life for the good even now. No doubt, you’ve had them too.

Teachers like Mrs. Frances Thompson, who made me learn every bone in the body, recite Annabel Lee and do a two-minute report on blood. She was scary at first, but I grew to love her so. She also read out loud to us. Our whole class would be mesmerized as she left us on a cliffhanger in a Nancy Drew book.

Teachers like Mrs. Donna McLean who made the parts of speech come alive with a story she made up about a cave man. She also taught us the great and simple formula for writing an essay — and made us realize that no matter how subjective writing was, there were certain rules and ways to follow to make it less mysterious.

Teachers like Mr. Ovid Vickers, who could tell a story as well as anyone. He also knew something about just about everything. He was a real educator and did his best to expand the minds of his students.

And now, as this generation of students goes back to school once again, I pray that they may be blessed with the wonder of experience that builds their bodies, the brains and their characters.