"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer
When I moved to Washington DC in middle school I lived in Washington DC but I attended Holton Arms in Bethesda Maryland. Holton Arms is a medium sized all girls college preparatory school which was established in 1901 by two women, Miss Arms and Mrs. Holton.
Like many all girls schools, Holton began as a finishing school with an educational bent to it. By the time I got to Holton it was no longer a finishing school – except in the sense that the education I received there was so rigorous that I thought it was going to finish me off!
Without a doubt, the best teachers I ever had from elementary school through law school were my Holton teachers. Most were married with families of their own, but these amazing women still treated us like we were the most important parts of their lives. Mrs. Rogers, my AP English teacher, was a soft spoken exquisitely beautiful woman who was incredibly tough as a teacher. When she said you had written something well or captured the essence of a book, you walked on air for a week!
Mrs. Cole, in the history department, taught everything – or so it seems in my memory. I know she taught Government to 8th graders, AP American History and it seems that she also taught European history. She walked around the class with a glorious posture that belied her days as a model (or so she told us.) When I think of the War of the Roses and Richard III, I think of Mrs. Cole!
I had a wonderful math teacher – Mrs. Thomas. She was another fantastic teacher who managed to make calculus sensible. I did so very well in high school and then got to college and crashed and burned with calculus! My success was clearly due to Mrs. Thomas.
The best of all my teachers however was Miss Shearman. This woman was a force of nature who was my Latin teacher for three years. If you got the wrong answer she threw a super ball at you. If you made a grammatical mistake in English, you had to contribute a penny to her piggy bank made of a bleach bottle. She took us from Amo, Amas, Amat to the glories of Virgil in just three years.
When she wasn’t teaching us Latin, she taught us mythology, geography, a little Italian, word origins, sculpture and painting. We had to learn the most famous Venus sculptures, the best of Bernini’s fountains, Botticelli’s glorious paintings, lots of classical arches and columns, and every hill in Rome!
Miss Shearman was from New England, a graduate of Wellesley College. I was Southern and taught to say “yes ma’am.” To Miss Shearman’s ear, that was servile, so every time I slipped up, I had to contribute a penny to the dreaded pig bleach bottle! That pig ate very well on my pennies for three years!
In honor of Miss Shearman's teachings, I grew to love art and the history of art. Every city that I visit has an art museum and I make sure that I see it - in honor of Miss Shearman. My children grew up visiting art museums too - and now they love spending time in museums as much as I do.
I hope that you had the good fortune to have wonderful teachers too! I am so incredibly grateful for the wonderful teachers that I had all through Holton! Please - go hug a teacher and say thank you!