When I was in 5th grade, I went to John Adams Elementary in Madera, Ca. It was the second year of three I would spend in Madera, and the longest time I had been in one spot for years.

Prior to this, I moved a lot. I moved several times while in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. I had gone to 3 different 2nd grades. I was one of those transient kids who moved around for whatever reason. Making friends became harder and the idea of school became a safe haven. Even in the turmoil of making (and losing friends), often being the ‘new kid’, the idea of school was a constant.

No matter where I went, there were teachers. There was school. No matter how long I was at any one place, it was often more home than home.


Mr. Latimer was my teacher in 5th grade. He had a neatly trimmed but full beard. He ran the yearbook class/club; he had a dark room (yes, with chemicals) in the back of the room, and we made plaster of paris masks of our face; he let us correct his ‘mistakes’ on the board (which may or may not have been planted). He sometimes played basketball with us at recess.

Those are just a few of the limited memories I have of him. I don’t remember worksheets or what curriculum map he may have used or what reading series or math or really anything school subject related. He probably used something, though this was 1987ish, so you never know. 🙂

What I was (and am) most influenced by was that he cared about/liked/loved us. I was likely a little jerk, but I don’t get the sense that he felt like I was. But somehow I knew he cared. I can’t think of anything he did that demonstrated that, but I knew.

My hope is that I can be that teacher for some kids. I know I am not always going to connect with every student, and my students are not going to give a rip about where I got my curriculum. They are going to remember, if anything, experiences, field trips, eating lunch with them on pizza day…They will remember, in their core, whether I cared/liked/loved them. It may not be any one moment but a collection of how they felt, good or bad, after leaving my class.

Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don’t. My hope, like the first year with students and the first years with my own kids…Man, I hope I don’t mess these kids up too much.

What teacher has made a difference in your life (we ALL have one)? How is your life different because of him or her?