Miss Bertie was his seventh-grade English teacher. Tough old nag,
from what he’d heard. He knew from three weeks in class that she was demanding…
she seemed bigger than everybody at school – Harvest of Thorns.
"Happy Birthday Miss Jones," by Norman Rockwell
No character has generated more feedback than Miss Bertie - Chan’s teacher, mentor, and friend. When Miss Bertie saw how hard life was for Chan, she started looking out for him. We’ll never know everything she did for him, but we have a pretty good idea.
How do we know? Because many of us had a Miss Bertie in our life.
I’ve been asked if Miss Bertie was based on someone from my past. Was she one of my elementary or high school teachers? A colleague? Was Miss Bertie even a Miss? Could she have been a Mister? I’m not saying. Everyone has their own Miss Bertie, and I don’t want mine to be any more important than yours. A reader sent along an email about his Miss Bertie:
Paul, my Miss Bertie was a lady named Mary Schean. 9th grade English.
We had Ivanhoe and diction drill. I still remember a bunch of her words.
Others describe their Miss Bertie as music teachers, coaches, and club sponsors. Regardless of what they teach, the Miss Berties of the world take time to really know their students. In most every case, it isn’t so much what they teach as how they teach it. Somehow, in the process of teaching, they also change lives.
So, here’s the big question – Who was your Miss Bertie? Respond in the comments section below, on my Facebook page, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t have to use your Miss Bertie’s real name if you prefer not to; just a few sentences about how they made a difference. I’ll pick one submission to receive a free copy of Harvest of Thorns.
1/10/2017 02:22:44 pm
Hmm ... I wonder if your Miss Bertie was really a 7th grade English teacher and a "tough old nag from what he'd heard". Well ... my Miss Bertie was the 7th grade English teacher with quite the reputation of being strict and mean ... you may remember Mrs. Turner. Due to an illness, I didn't start 7th grade with everyone coming from elementary school. Instead, I started a week or so later ... don't remember exactly. I do remember being afraid of Mrs. Turner based on the "reputation" my older siblings had given her. Interestingly, Mrs. Turner was the teacher that gave me the desire to teach ... I loved memorizing prepositions, diagraming sentences, and learning/memorizing "In Flanders Fields". I feel blessed to have been part of her last class before she retired. Although college wasn't an option after graduation due to finances, etc., I always thought maybe someday I could be someone's "Mrs. Turner". Twenty-five years after graduating high school, I returned to school/college and got my teaching degree in 2 1/2 years. There was no other teacher that made me believe I could go to college or be a teacher. Mrs. Turner was my inspiration and I think of her and her "tough old nag" reputation often. I wonder how many of the students walking the halls of our local high school would be pulled to the side to have their pants pulled up or the shirts/tops pulled down if she were there. How many of the students would learn to respect and challenge themselves under her guidance. I am grateful that she taught that last year and that I was fortunate enough to be one of her many students.
1/12/2017 12:55:24 pm
Minnie Lou Irwin was my junior chemistry teacher at Alleghany High School, Sparta, N.C. I was not a good science or math student, and chemistry requires some skill in both. Minnie Lou was a little skinny white haired woman when I moved to Sparta, feared by some but much loved by those who took her classes. She made chemistry and science fun, without me really knowing how! Loved her class!!
1/13/2017 08:08:35 am
My teacher is nameless... I mean I don't even remember her name. Her influence on my life was profound. She was my 7th Grade Home Ec teacher. Maybe it was my budding experience with puberty. Maybe it was because she was young and beautiful. Home Ec wasn't even on my schedule. Art was a total washout for me and Home Ec was the only other option. I got in class late and being an extreme introvert put me behind the proverbial eight-ball. She was tough and not influenced by pre-pubescence flattery. Whatever I thought, she made me work hard for my grade in her class. My mom was tough, but I was beginning to rebel against her authority. This unnamed teacher scared me into submission to her classroom rules. Now, some 45 years later, if you are in my house after dinner when I am doing the dishes, you will see me empty the sink, wipe it down with a washcloth, and I will wipe down all of the appliances used to make dinner. That is the power and influence of teaching on a young man's life.
1/15/2017 07:48:50 am
My Miss Bertie was Dale Carrier who has since texently passed away. I had him for Contemporay Issues. He taught me it was ok to express an opinion that wasn't necessarily the opinion of others . He taught me bravery. That it was ok to be different. I really became a stronger person with his direction. Now I can proudly tell everyone I'm a Christian I love all people and I'm not a follower. It's ok to be your own person. Mr. Carrier taught me that
1/16/2017 01:18:38 pm
It had to be Mrs. Tucker, my drama teacher at Truman High School. We all called her "Tucker." She was very funny, down to earth and loved her "kids" dearly. She was very creative and challenged us to be our best (just ask my sister, Robin, about our worst argumtent ever!). She was instrumental, through my expereince in theatre, in developing my ability to do presentations, speak in public and in my marketing efforts. I miss her dearly.
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