#10) Dear Mrs. Berman

Dear Mrs. Berman,

I took your class, “Art of the Essay”, twenty years ago, when I was a sophomore at Brookline High School.  You and I had our differences, but I still do remember you and thought I’d drop you a line.  You may recall that I was into music, and for a long time, that was my life’s work.  It still is, for the most part, but lately I’ve found myself heading back to writing.  I have discovered the format of the blog, and have become quite the junkie.  You may be happy to know that my hiking blog, http://www.nobodyhikesinla.com, has almost 50,000 page views and over 200 subscribers.  (By the way, I now live in Long Beach, CA).  Speaking of California, the wife of a friend I’ve made out here graduated B.H.S. around the same time as me.  Remember that sweet, timid girl from Russia named J. whom you made cry?

There were times when I hated you, but in fairness, I pretty much hated all of my teachers.  Yeah, you often couldn’t understand normal thinking and I always dreaded having to see you next Tuesday, and you made me actually hate the writing of E.B. White, but I remember you better than a lot of my other teachers, so you must have done something well.  In retrospect, I like that you told it as you saw it, even if you were demonstrably wrong.    You didn’t make apologies, and as politically correct as the world has become lately, that’s something we need more of.   I mean, seriously, what’s with these schools that don’t let teachers use red ink on students’ papers because it hurts their feelings?  Gimme a break!

As someone who has done a fair amount of teaching – both as a substitute teacher and as a classroom and private music teacher – I’ve learned that if you’re doing your job right, not everyone likes you. By that standard, Mrs. B., you’re employee of the month.

But time heals all wounds, as they say, and I’m certainly happy to bury the hatchet if you are.   You were just doing your job the way you thought was best.  Reasonable minds can disagree, right?  Truth be told, were I in your sensible shoes, I don’t know what I would have done differently or better – I certainly would have had a hard time putting up with myself.   Every so often, I see some of my younger self in the students I teach, and I ask myself, was I really that bad?

I don’t know, Mrs. B. – was I?

Never mind, you don’t have to answer that.


David Lockeretz

Brookline High School (sine laude), class of 1993


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