Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I was Tagged in a Game of Holiday Blogger Tag
Last week, blogger and author Debbie Siegel, over atGirl with Pen tagged my daughter with a "meme," which is funny word for a game of blogger tag. J.K. Gayle at Speakeristic had created a meme, and tagged Debbie. Debbie tagged my daughter and she tagged me. This is the question Speakeristic posed to whoever is "it": "Who are the teachers who have most personally influenced you and how?" This post is a public "thank you!" to them all..." So here I go:

Benjamin Bold, the chairman of the math department at Seward Park High School in New York City who gave me the gift of mathematics. He bought me a lovely little book called "Mathematician's Delight" by W.W. Sawyer and by carefully reading that book, I taught myself the elements of differential and integral calculus, the calculus of finite differences, and opened up the mysteries of the Pascal triangle. He also selected a small group of math students which included some of my closest friends and me to learn the elements of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. These gifts opened my mind up to a dimension of abstract thinking unknown to me until then. Because of his influence, I took and thoroughly mastered every advanced level math course given in the New York City High School system, including Advanced trigonometry, analytic geometry and solid geometry. I will never forget him for those gifts.

Joe Rosenthal - High School band teacher who told me that my musical talents earned me the prestigious position of oboist in the Junior and then the senior orchestra and band. Our band went to Lincoln Center the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's open rehearsals, and we heard about music from Leonard Bernstein, the master conductor himself. Mr. Rosenthal even bought me a reed-making kit which kept me busy for hours making oboe reeds. He was tough, he was caring, he was smart, and we had one hell of a band.

Dr. Louis G. Heller, professor of Latin and Linguistics at CCNY. He opened my mind to the Universe of language and linguistics. Undoubtedly, the way I teach languages today is completely informed by the science of linguistics and a deep understanding of how one learns language. Without Dr. Heller's wonderful lectures on Parametric Analysis and Laryngeal Theory, I would probably never have been "hooked" into pursuing an M.A. in Linguistics. Although I had many fine professors at Hunter College among whom were Ralph Ward, the Chair of the Dept., and Sally McClendon who taught Anthropological Linguistics, none had the transformative effect that Dr. Heller had upon me.

Like Rebecca before me, I thank the thousands of students I have taught in my career whose questions and challenges opened me up to new ways of thinking about language and the best techniques for creating speakers out of students after a mere one year of foreign language training.

I now tag Rochelle Saidel and her blog
Remember the Women

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