Judging People on My Experience

School memories do not often occupy my thoughts today. One thing I was learning as I approached High School was not to trust negative attributes which others gave to teachers. I was learning to judge them from my own experience. In seventh grade I sat in home room with Miss Haseltine, who in appearance was grim, and everyone said the experience with her would be grim also. My strongest memory of her today is the time when she took me and one other student to visit the home of John Greenleaf Whittier, on the outskirts of Haverhill. I thought of her recently as I encountered the words of Whittier while studying his role in the Abolition Movement, with Garrison, one of my “heroes” of history. That visit may have been the first seed of my present focus on the history of that nineteenth century movement! Miss Haseltine was never a favorite teacher, but I discovered one who cared for her students. I was learning not to quickly accept the negative predictions of others.

A similar learning occurred as I moved into eighth grade. I heard stories of “dynamite” Russell, the tall, “piano-legged” woman whose dictatorial style dominated her room. “Everyone hates her” was the common judgment. My actual experience with her gave a “lie” to all I had heard. An able teacher, she taught me the value of discipline in attention to assignments. I came to admire the once-dreaded!

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