The Teacher Who Freed Me

I have had all kinds of teachers.

I had one who pulled my hair when she caught me talking.

I had another teacher who “didn’t tell” when I had an accident, and all the class wondered who had.

There was Miss S., who was so beautiful that I wanted to look just like her when I grew up.

There was the social studies teacher who loved his job and sparked my interest in what was going on in the world.

A math teacher who didn’t care if you didn’t “get it,” and lived only for the kids who did.

I had a teacher who frequently came to work intoxicated, but I wasn’t able to put two-and-two together until reflecting years later.

And then there was the teacher who freed me. She took our home economics class and turned it into an exciting time of creative exploration. She didn’t just teach us to cook -she taught us how to cook foreign foods and helped us put on a real luau -pig and all!

She went beyond in everything that she did.

She had us bring in old pieces of furniture, and we actually used toxic chemicals (oh my) to strip the finish off before sanding and refinishing. I was blown away by this new skill and sense of accomplishment in turning something tired into something vibrant.

Vibrant. That best described her. I watched in amazement as she sparred with administration for permission to do things in our class, and I know she sometimes went ahead without asking.

She dated a man who lived in Washington DC. She said he photographed presidents. We were a country school far from everywhere. How could she do that?

I could finally see beyond where I was, and because she was free, I could be, too.

Thank you, Ms. Bradley. I still love you.

-Nealie Rose


  1. SHERREE says:

    In 5th grade I had a teacher that told us on the 1st day of school that he was Jewish. He’d try to catch kids laughing at anything he did or said that pertained to him being Jewish. It was almost like he was trying to encourage the class to make fun of Him. He once took us all to the gym and had us stand in a circle and hold hands while he taught us a Jewish dance. At the end of the school year, he told us he was not Jewish, and that he just wanted to see if we would make fun of him if he was. Was he trying to teach us not to be prejudiced? I didn’t get it.

    • NealieRose says:

      I think that prejudice can be taught, observed, learned, and experienced. It sounds like he may have had a little of all those going on in his classroom experiment. I think that he was misguided, and missed a year of opportunity to demonstrate kindness to all with his confusing methods. Thanks for sharing, Nealie

Comments are closed.