To repeat a quote from my last blog;
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
That quote came to mind as I finished reading a most inspirational book: “Dr. Mutter’s Marvels” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (2014). This is a true tale of the beginning of modern medicine as pioneered by Dr. Thomas Mutter, along with the founding of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Orphan, physician, surgeon, husband, and beloved teacher, are titles associated with this remarkable man who was born in 1811 and died tragically in 1859.
His teachings and his students were ultimately responsible for creating the Food and Drug Administration, wiping out Yellow Fever, founding the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (first in the nation), standardizing the use of anesthesia in surgery, the concept of “Triage”, sanitation to avoid infections, and too many more to list here.
Mutter was the best of teachers because he loved his subject, respected his students, and was always open to learning new things.
The teacher most important to me was in first grade. This hero taught me to read and made a scared little kid feel safe in school. Three quarters of a century later, I can still see her face. I wrote a poem for her that was printed in the school paper:
“Thanks to Miss. Udren in room 201 for the wonderful job that she has done…"
Memory fails me until my eighth grade science teacher – Mrs. Frankenfield. She was married and I even saw her once in a store. My goodness, she was a real person with a life outside the classroom. She was also one of the very few teachers in whose classroom I was not bored to tears. Then there was the compassionate French teacher in college who gave me a passing grade that I did not deserve because she saw that I had straight A's in all my math and science classes and did not want to cause me grief. And, many thanks to the teachers who forgot to tell me, “Girls can’t do math”.
My husband fondly remembers two elementary school teachers who took a personal interest in their students. One of them, using her own time and money, took a small group to The Franklin Institute. This was an amazing experience for a little boy who had never been there before. The other boosted his confidence by showing him his high IQ score and then gave him the gift of a book “A Book About A Thousand Things” with the inscription, “To …. In recognition of his keen mind… June …” It is still on our bookshelf.
There were also two very memorable high school teachers. One excellent math teacher “taught in such a way that I can still remember the quadratic equation”. The other, a chemistry teacher, “took a personal interest in me and got me a summer job at” a lab at the University of Pennsylvania.
These teachers ultimately were an influence on our careers and, in turn, that of our children.