Tribute to Educators

The Magnificent 7! A Tribute to Teachers Who Made a Difference

We are aware of the fact that many of our previous instructors have invested their hearts, minds, and souls into cultivating in us the qualities that they regarded as essential to our education, necessary to our accomplishments, and significant to our prospects for the future. This is something that we are grateful for and acknowledge.

In keeping with this topic, I would like to take this opportunity to honour and share with you The Magnificent 7 — seven educators from my past who have been a source of motivation for me and have contributed generously of their time to the noble profession that we refer to as teaching. The following seven educators have proven themselves worthy of the epithet “great” in the field of education, which is considered by many of us to be the “life’s work” for which we have trained.

T is for Trusting

My first grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Young, and she was wonderful. She was understanding, and I could put my faith in her. She was the first instructor in the history of the world to ever recognise that I had something unique to share with the world, even if at the time it was just my dimples. Mrs. Young helped me navigate the waters of my first budding romance and ensured that our classroom would always feel like a secure environment. I will always treasure her kind words, her caring smile, and the encouragement she gave me as I struggled with my ABC scrapbook and learned to talk less.

E is for Enthusiastic

Mr. Todd was my “open classroom” teacher when I was in the sixth grade. He not only had the ability to look you in the eye and coax you into good behaviour, but he also had the ability to coax you into singing your heart out! He possessed astounding talent. Believe it or not, Mr. Todd served as the choir instructor for our class. Back in the day, when there were no restrictions on available funds for education, I was one of the first people to experience learning in an open classroom setting. He was enthusiastic about all of our learning, but especially when it came time for us to practise our instruments and learn new songs. I will never forget how he figuratively and literally “pounded” the keyboard to get our class to sing with a jubilant noise, and I will always treasure that moment.

A is for Amazing

In addition, Mr. Kirshenbaum was my “open classroom” teacher when I was in the sixth grade. He worked closely with Mr. Todd to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and was responsible for the majority of the “academic” teaching. It never failed to amaze me how Mr. K was able to keep his composure no matter what the problem or predicament was, whether it was a broken arm or a broken heart. His gentle, caring demeanour and exceptional leadership were unparalleled throughout all of my years in school. Everyone looked up to and respected him as a genuine guide. In the future, he would take over as the superintendent of the two local school districts in which I worked as an administrator and become my “boss.” Recently, he stepped down from his position as the superintendent of an extremely prosperous district. Due to the fact that I am familiar with Mr. K, I am aware that this is merely the beginning of his next adventure.

C is for Charisma

You know those people who walk into your life and everyone loves them no matter what they say or do, right? That was my uncle, Mr. Joseph Gascon, speaking there. Uncle Joe was a talented baseball player who had a chance to play in the major leagues, but he decided to pursue teaching instead because he felt that was his true calling. He was brilliant, and many people admired him for the way that he was always firm, fair, and consistent. He possessed remarkable charisma and could keep you interested for hours as he related stories about his experiences as a teacher or updated you on the performance of his favourite baseball team. His genuine concern for his students, teachers, parents, and the community at large in the school won the hearts of many people. He rose rapidly through the ranks and was an administrator for many years before passing away in the late 1990s. His final institution, which is now known as the Joseph A. Gascon Elementary School, was named after him. Not only will I always fondly remember him as his niece, but also for the time he took to support me as a new teacher and for his mentorship as I became a school administrator. Both of these things will remain indelible in my mind.

H is for Hopeful

Mr. Goebal was the United Student Body (USB) teacher at the high school where I studied. I can honestly say that I was one of those people! I took advantage of all of the available leadership opportunities and served as the secretary for both the junior and senior classes for a total of two years. Mr. Goebal was the teacher at my high school who had the honour and the distinct privilege of instructing in the subject of social studies and guiding all of the class officers in our daily work. Yes, there was a class at our school where all of the officers got together on a regular basis to have their meetings. During these meetings, we discussed important issues like where we should have the next prom and which band should play at the next dance. On the other hand, we did have some students who were able to engage in some acrimonious debates on other issues that our principal did not take too kindly to; these issues included staging walk-outs or sit-ins in order to protest the Vietnam War. When those heated debates took place in the classroom, Mr. Goebal maintained his composure, which helped to ease our anxiety, and he was a consistent source of inspiration. Even when we were aware that the walk-out was not going to happen, he never wavered in his encouragement to us to bring the issue forward regardless of the possible outcomes. I will never forget him because of the patience he showed us, as well as the kind acceptance he showed for each of our unique student perspectives.

E is for Extraordinary

Ms. Paulee served as both my college voice coach and teacher during my time there. She was an incredibly talented and remarkable artist who had a career with the Metropolitan Opera. After a long career at the MET, she eventually took a position teaching at CSULA after she retired. She exerted a tremendous amount of pressure on her voice students and was extremely dedicated to their success. During our twice-weekly sessions together, she was able to coax me into using my voice and push the boundaries of my vocal capabilities in ways that I had never imagined were possible. She coached and mentored with a vigour that is not typically seen in educators in their middle 60s. Her passing in 1995 did not diminish the extraordinary brilliance of the legacy she left behind. I will be forever in awe of her teaching and the passionate spirit that she exudes, and I will be grateful to her for her unwavering faith in my artistic abilities.

R is for Resonate

Many of you who read my blog are aware that my grandmother, Mrs. Carmen Gascon, is the person who serves as the primary source of motivation for me in everything that I do. She was able to get into UCLA during a time when the majority of women living during that era were unable to do so. She was fluent in five different languages, including English, Spanish, French, and German. The study of languages was a passion of hers. She received her degree from Summa Cum Laude and went on to become a high school foreign language teacher as well as an adjunct professor at a community college. Her approach to teaching languages and her message that there is always reason for optimism consistently struck a chord with her pupils. She came to this country when it was still in its infancy, and as a result, she had a strong belief that education had the power to lift people out of poverty and help them realise their ambitions. I will be indebted to her for the rest of my life for the unwavering dedication she displayed toward living a life in which she pursued her passions and for teaching me to do the same.

I’d be thrilled to get a message from you! Since I’ve already shared my Magnificent 7, do you have at least one? As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, please tell us about a teacher who has had a significant impact on your life and your decision to become an educator.