Teachers in my life helped shape who I am today

Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     May 8-12, this week, is Teacher Appreciation Week.

     At the age of 32, I have had too many teachers/professors to even count, from kindergarten through six years of college. And it’s not as though I attended one school all through my primary school days, either. I’m an Army brat, so we moved around a lot growing up. I’m sure those who grew up here and returned to Monticello can recall the names of all of their elementary, middle school and high school teachers. Not me…

     However, there were several teachers I had once my family moved into the Maquoketa Valley School District that definitely left an impact on my life, even today.

     My sixth grade teacher in Earlville was Bernita Moser. Our class was her last year of teaching. The joke for a few years was that our class was so bad, Mrs. Moser was forced to retire. Not true.

     While Mrs. Moser was strict, she taught us well. In sixth grade in MV you learned all about the history of the great State of Iowa. I recall our history lessons as some of my favorite. Perhaps that’s why I am such a history buff today, who knows?

     If you were a good student, did your homework and didn’t create problems in the classroom, Mrs. Moser was not a problem for you. You saw her strict side otherwise. Not to boast about myself, but I never had an issue with our sixth grade teacher.

     My older cousins who had her in school forewarned me about her temper. Again, no worries.

     Three of my high school teachers also left imprints in my life: Diane Temple, Pat Meehan, and Kathy Butikofer.

     Diane was the Spanish teacher when I was in high school at Maquoketa Valley, but for me, she was the advisor of our school newspaper and yearbook class. (I took German during all four years in high school.)

     During my high school days, this class was more of an extra curricular activity than an actual graded class. We worked on the weekly newspaper and yearbook during our free class periods or in the morning before school started, or after the day ended.

     I was one who could always be found in the school library or computer lab working away, making sure we had all of the content on time for the “Wildcat Echo” to come out on Fridays or trying to meet deadlines for the yearbook.

     I didn’t know it then because by my sophomore year I had intentions to pursue a career in becoming a math teacher, but the guidance Diane provided to our group in high school would surely go a long way. She made sure we knew about deadlines, gave us the freedom to write about and photograph anything (within reason), and encouraged us to always think outside the box. I’m still using those lessons today in my job at the Express.

     Pat Meehan was our junior and senior government teacher. I credit him for my immense interest in politics and government today. I’ve shared this numerous times, but Mr. Meehan taught our senior class a great lesson… When sitting in the driver’s seat of your car, look down at the gearshift. If you’re in “drive,” or “D,” you’re moving forward (in life). If you’re in “reverse,” “or R,” you’re moving backwards. So Mr. Meehan always told us to keep going forward in life. (Sharing this story for the humor of it, not to take a stab at one political party over the other.)

     Mr. Meehan had a wealth of knowledge about our state and national government. He made his classes fun and interesting. One thing he required every Friday was to have us all bring in a current event, whether we found it in the local newspaper or online. Not only did we have to bring in the article as proof, but he also had us summarize it for the rest of the class and give our take on the article.

     I haven’t thought about it until now, but perhaps, like Diane, Mr. Meehan had a hand in where I sit in my career today…

     Mrs. Butikofer was my math teacher in high school. This is where my first thoughts in terms of a future career as a math teacher began. I loved all of my math classes! Math just came easy to me; I loved problem-solving long equations. While it was easy to solve these problems using a graphic calculator, I enjoyed doing them by hand, showing each and every step along the way. And when my equations balanced out, I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself.

     Mrs. Butikofer went on to become a part-time teacher and tutor at NICC in Peosta after I graduated. I, too, attending NICC after high school before transferring to Clarke in Dubuque. So, I got to see her (and her now-late husband Merlin) every day. That made my transition a bit easier.

     While I chose to mention these few teachers I had by name, all of the educators in my life had an impact on me in some shape or another. We go to school to learn, but teachers are more than that, which we find out later in life. They become mentors, good friends, people you look up to and strive to be like.


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