March 13: Teacher’s teachers

22 Apr

Three of those guys you see above either are, or were, professional educators. The other is, or was, decidedly not. Good guess: The one in the red (me) is the black sheep.

I’m not even close to kidding when I say I would make an absolutely awful teacher. Way too disorganized. And the idea of accommodating a wide range of learning styles and abilities makes each of the six hairs on my head hurt. I mean, I start to sweat from the eyelids if I have to arrange dinner for more than two at a time. Being responsible for the educational development of 20 or so kids? It’s laughable at best.

Which brings me to my profound respect for anyone who really can do it.

Like my sister LJ (now retired from special education, a stay-at-home mom). Like my brother-in-law Randy (which national teaching award did he win this week?). Like my dad (retired after nearly 30 years teaching high school math). Like my mom (special education at Sutton Central School). And like my wife, The Beautiful Heth, who was one of those who knew she wanted to teach when she was just teeny-tiny, and then went ahead and did it, just like she was supposed to.

TBH has since crossed from 15 years of teaching to “the dark side,” as her big brother likes to call it, and is now director of curriculum for the Governor Wentworth School District, where she is a star. Naturally, those are not words that she would ever use, but it’s true. But enough about how great she is. This moment is dedicated to two of the most important people in getting her there: Mr. Hal Shortsleeve and Mr. Terry Christy.

That’s Hal up there on the far left. He was TBH’s principal and mentor at the first job she really loved, Windham (Maine) Middle School. Third from the left is Terry Christy, an old pal of Hal’s, a former Windham Superintendent and TBH’s favorite professor at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. In terms of formative educational influences on one of the state’s best educational minds (Heth’s), there is her mom … and then there are these two.

The way it worked is like so: TBH became close with Terry and his family (including a stint as his assistant field hockey coach), Terry sent her to Windham (and ultimately to Hal at the middle school) upon her graduation, and just like that she started teaching middle school. And simply having typed the words “teaching middle school” has just now made me want to dive headfirst into a tub full of liquid Advil.

Where this story and Hoops intersect is March 13, on which day Terry and Hal, and their wives Kathy and Terry, arrived for Sunday dinner and a little rebounding. It had been more than 11 years since I had last seen them, but my goodness these people seem like family. Terry became Rosie’s “Mr. Howell” (no idea), my dad and Kathy Christy realized they were Bates College ’65 classmates (seriously), and TBH fired up a ridiculously great pasta evening (no surprise there).

And in the midst of that, we made some foul shots. The Beans and Vinny Dustin had assisted on 1,750 earlier in the day, so we figured another 250 would bring us to a nice, round 2,000. With the gym in use, it was to the driveway — a little windy, a little wet — where I struggled through with Hal, Terry and my dad doing the chasing.

As I said, I’ve got a lot of teachers in my family. With the Shortsleeves and Christys around, it feels like I’ve got a few more.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


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