Back in December we lost one of my teachers. She was young, only in her fifties I would guess, though I don’t actually know. She was my eighth grade Algebra teacher and the mother of one of my classmates.
We really did call her Mrs. P-D because her hyphenated name was kinda long to say all the time. She was a good teacher but not my favorite. In fact, I thought sometimes she was unnecessarily harsh but I owe a lot to her. I’m an accountant and we don’t use Trig or Geometry or Calculus. We use Algebra. And that’s what I learned from Mrs. P-D. It was hard at first. I struggled for a while but Mrs. P-D was patient with all of us. She knew it was difficult for most of us to grasp the new concept of math we were learning. She used to say, “It’s not hard, it’s just different.” And she would go over a problem three times if somebody still needed clarification.
What I remember most about her class though, is it was the last period of the day and some days she would let us turn on music for the last few minutes while we packed up and waited for the bell to ring. Sometimes we’d turn on “My Girl” and dance the shag. Sometimes we’d turn on the live Barry Manilow album and laugh at the medley of advertising jingles. Like with Coach R’s classes (and all the best ones), it was the things that happened outside the curriculum that mattered most.
She leaves behind a husband and children and a lot of students whose lives she touched. She may not have been my favorite teacher, but she was a good teacher and I imagine a good administrator though that was after my time. There aren’t enough of those. Cherish the ones who made an impression on you. She wasn’t perfect but she cared for her students and worked very hard to make sure we all got a good foundation to carry us through high school, both in Algebra and in life. God bless you, Mrs. P-D. Rest in peace.