Written by Steve Cannon for USSANews.com.
I have an eidetic memory (That’s a $5 word for, “photographic.”) That thought popped into my head while I was reminiscing about an earlier time back when I was in high school. I was thinking about where I was then and where I am now, and how I got here. You see, I’m a 49-year old successful Technical Writer for a major software company.
Why am I thanking my high school teachers and not my college professors?
Because they’re the ones who taught me the things I needed to survive in this crazy world. They taught me the essentials and the basics. I went to college but never graduated. In fact, only one professor leaps to mind as being memorable, Dr. Sandra Purl. She loved my prose so much that she read it aloud in class one day. Students literally gasped with every cringe-worthy word I had written. I was proud that day and wish I still had that piece of writing.
Who and what I learned from in high school
- Mr. London and Dr. J.: Both taught me to program computers. This included BASIC, Pascal, Machine Language, and Assembly Language. I also learned to do arithmetic (with pencil and paper) in Binary and Hexadecimal. College taught me none of this – and had the nerve to charge me.
- Ms. Greenberg: I had a crush on her, of course. She taught me proper grammar and syntax. For example, I know when a question mark goes within quotes and when it does not. Do you?
- Ms. Dellarocca: She loved my writing and gave me an A++ on a paper I had written. The class had three weeks to write it, but I wrote the entire ten pages the night before it was due. In the margin she wrote, “You could be a professional writer someday.” – and I did…because of that!
- Miss Meringolo: She was my eighth grade English teacher from Britain. She once asked, “Why do Americans say, ‘Ya done good,’ when it’s correct to say, ‘You did well’?” (Note the correct use of quotation marks thanks to the teachers mentioned earlier.) I had no answer at the time, but if I could go back to that moment, I would say to her, “Americans use incorrect vernacular and grammar for emphasis. When my New York friends and I curse at each other, it’s not because we’re rude or angry, it’s a simple way to add emphasis to the point we’re making.”
- Mr. Grimes: Tricked me into thinking that “rooves” was the plural for “roof.” It is not. “Roofs” is the proper plural form of the word.
To be sure, I could cite endless examples of things I’ve learned from my teachers over the years, and most have gone unknown to them. This is an oversight I cannot let go any longer. My career was formed because of what they formed in me. (I also had a hand in the process, but they helped in ways they probably never saw.)
Teachers have been far from appreciated lo these many years. I’m writing this simple Thank You note for just this reason, to thank all of you. I write this in the hopes that my former teachers, or other teachers, may see it and realize that though their efforts may seem to go unnoticed, they are not. For that, I say your efforts and teachings are noticed, they are remembered, and they are implemented. I thank you, despite the lack of celebration for your profession.
Your efforts have provided me a $100K career I love (and this website), all with a simple high school diploma from a public school in Da Bronx (sic).