Who’s Your Favorite?

Several weeks ago, I posed a question on my personal Facebook page asking my friends if they remembered their favorite teachers from elementary school and high school. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of answers that the questions garnered and I really enjoyed reading all of them. Then I was asked to answer my own question. I had several from elementary school but the two that stood out the most for me during high school were from my senior year especially. My English teacher, Ms. Kostopoulos and my Chorus teacher Mr. Malone. Now, now, granted one of those two teachers is actually a fan of my blog and Facebook fan page, but that is not the reason that I have fond memories of them. It’s what they pulled out of my during my time with them in high school.

Ms. Kostopoulos was a FANTASTIC English teacher. Granted, she always collected our essays during the time where I completely FAILED to do mine but the thought process that I learned for reading novels was much deeper than I expected for that time in my life. I mean, I consider myself a pretty smart individual. However, for my extended essay  (something that students in the International Baccalaureate program had to complete the summer between their junior and senior years) I was assigned to Ms. Kostopoulos because my E.E. was in the subject of English. I wrote a paper on the strong symbolism of water in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, by the great Zora Neale Hurston. And let me tell you, Ms. K tore my paper to shreds! She called my ability to bs – and quite well I might add – and made me really think about WHY an author would choose to make something as common as water such an important detail in a novel. By the time that I was done with my extended essay, I was honestly proud of what I had submitted. Not just because it was 12 pages later and a part of my legacy in the program was complete, but it was because it was something that I worked extremely hard on, and something that I believed in. It was something that she saw me finish from beginning to end, and while at first I thought that maybe she was being unnecessarily harsh on my work, it was something that we both could be proud of. Needless to say, I got an EXCELLENT grade from the IB gods and went on to earn my IB diploma. That senior year proved to be amazing as well. We read books and poetry and excerpts that challenged our thinking process and turned my fervor for reading up another notch.

And while Ms. K was teaching English, WAYYYYYYY on the other side of my high school building in a little corner, was a teacher that I have come to love as if he is my own family member. Mr. Malone. I’m sure that anyone who had him as a teacher can honestly say that they appreciated time in his class, no matter how rough he was on us. Let me start out by saying, I can NOT sing. Literally. Can. Not. Sing. However, I LOVED CHORUS. There was something unifying about being in a room with a mixture of music majors and double honors students. Those from the IB and the Math & Science programs. In chorus we were all equal. And when we sang together it was fantastic. And while you may think that I am being biased, every competition that we participated in during my three-year stint in Chorus, we receive Superior ratings. The first year, Mr. Malone scared me so much that I literally tried my best to hide whenever I came into his room. I’ll never forget it. I was in Beginning Mixed Chorus, and he decided to shake it up a bit, and just have a Male Chorus, a Girl’s Chorus and an Advanced Mixed Chorus. He asked me if I could read music. I stared at him, straight-faced, and lied. “Yes,” I said. So he put me in Advanced Mixed Chorus. And that’s where I stayed for the next three years. Chorus was something that I looked forward to daily. It took my mind off of the pressures of being in an academically challenging program, and learning three and four part harmonies made me feel, for lack of a better word, cool. There was something amazing about nailing harmonies to a song that had been kicking our butts for weeks. We knew that when he said that we had to sing in measures of four with one measure as a pause, we weren’t holding our keys very well. There was a buzz when we would do our vocal warm-ups and instead of the usual…he would play four simple notes…

Do – Do – Ti – Do

And the bass section would lead us in a vocal warm up that would sound MAGNIFICENT if we all stayed on key. Chorus trips to the Art Institute for our annual holiday concert would be full of singing on the bus. We sang at The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the biggest preparations went into our annual holiday and spring concerts. There was something special about those nights.

Mr. Malone and me - I am looking rather, motherish. LOL!

I still keep in touch with both of those teachers. Ms. K on Facebook and Mr. Malone has been one of the few teachers that I still call on the phone or stop in and visit in general. I was honored that he attended the wedding of Mr. Nicholes and I. I’ve gone to dinner and lunch with him. He’s just that important to me. If he does sign on to his computer this week (because the man STAYS busy in his “retirement”) I hope that he gets a chance to read this, and know just how very blessed I am to have had him as a teacher. Really.

So. Ms. K and Mr. Malone, I tip my hat to you all, and let you know, I love you loads for being two of the teachers that I admire most.

~Make it a Fantastic Day!~

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  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Now Natasha! You know how I feel about Mr. Malone! He was the best hands down! He took a bunch of inner city youth & showed us some things about ourselves. To sing in the Art Institute & kick butt in competitions was the best feeling ever. During my stint in high school (1992-1996) he also had the few select that would do small group selections…I felt so proud to be a part of it! And he had to choose you personally…that’s what made it so rewarding. There were people who I never saw anywhere else in school but we all felt like family in that class. Oh my word, and who would be dumb enough to cut his class then walk by that huge wall of windows. He would literally stop class & call you out in front of your friends. And if he caught you cutting during the period of your actual class….he would send someone to open the back door to let you in to come to class *lol* He was a tough one…but the most liked teacher in the entire school by EVERYONE who took chorus!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    And by the way…yes to hear our class warm up to “Do-Do-Ti-Do”…. Oh Lordy you just brought back sweet memories. And how about EVERYONE having to audition for what section they would sing in in front of the entire class! *lol*

    And we couldn’t rehearse in the auditorium or on the risers till we got it right at our desk. When we got it right oh he would clown with us. But when we got it wrong…boy did he let us know *lol*

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