Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
I was never a teacher’s pet, and it wasn’t something I ever remember striving for or really thinking about much. I liked most of my teachers and even if I didn’t I always tried to get along with them. I felt it was my job to learn and make good grades and show respect to them, even if I didn’t like them so much.
The teacher that stands out in my mind the most is my 10th grade biology teacher, Mrs. McBee. Though I knew by high school that I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wasn’t so sure I liked science so much. Up until that point, it hadn’t done too much to spark my interest and it sure wasn’t my best subject.
Then along came Charlotte McBee. My oldest sister had also had her and assured me I would like her. I did. I even overlooked the fact that most of the time she called me by my sister’s name and not my own. My sister was one of the high achievers and straight A students, so if she wanted to get me confused with her, that was quite alright by me.
It was in Charlotte McBee’s classroom that I fell in love with science and nature. Her classroom was a very hands on classroom. It was in her room that I was introduced to the names and learned to identify all the various wildflowers, trees, and birds. I remember going on classroom hikes to the nature trails behind the high school and getting on my hands and knees to identify wildflowers. I remember winding through the woods and learning the various names of trees–trees I had seen all my life, but never bothered to learn the identities of. And I clearly remember the day she had binoculars for everybody in the class and we went out in the back of the school and stood in the parking lot facing the trees to birdwatch. Her class made me pay a little more attention to the world around me.
Mrs. McBee always made learning fun and kept it interesting. She was always cheerful and always seemed interested in her students. I remember there always being hamsters, gerbils, and critters of some sort in her room and I remember the day she approached me and asked me if I wanted two gerbils. I was ecstatic. That day, I went home with those two gerbils and in no time at all, the family of two gerbils had turned into a family of 8. I don’t think my mother spoke to me for a week. The moral of the story? Ask your mother’s permission before bringing two prolific breeding rodents into the household.
It was because of Mrs. McBee that I began loving science and seeing the world in a whole new light. I went on to college, majored in Animal Science, and then went on to Veterinary school. I wish I could have had many more teachers like Charlotte McBee.