It is hard to know where to begin when I think of all of the teachers who have made a positive impact on my life. I can still remember the names of all of my grade-school teachers: Ms. Sharp, Ms. Briggs, Mr. Rodriquez, Ms. Biggs, and Mr. Hanson, along with my music/windsurfing (windsurfing in Montana on a literal pond… not exotic. plus I got an ear infection that took me out for several days) teacher Darcy Schultz (I remember her first name because it was the same as the last name of my grade school: Jim Darcy.)
Likewise onward through middle school and high school.
The youngest of three, I had the advantage of learning from my older brother and sister’s experiences, ending up, whenever possible, with the very best of the best. When University time came, I also followed my big sister Eve to Missoula and The University of Montana.
I started out as a Business Major. I was good at numbers.
I’ve never been a great student. But I was smart. If I could graph that smartness by age it would peak around age 11, when I remember getting a national standardized test score and out of four tests two of them were 99th percentile, meaning I had answered every question correctly, along with 1 in 100 other students. The other scores were high, but not so impressively so. The arc on the graph would stay high until 14 and then hit a distracted/hormonal low phase that would last until around 20-21. Then I got into philosophy and religious studies and – thanks to the amazing teachers I encountered – the smarter side came out again.
That’s how I got from my small town, growing up on a dirt road in Montana to graduate school in England (one of the best Buddhist/Religious Studies programmes in the UK, no less).
Overwhelmed and terrified that I would not live up to the standards in England, and perhaps also seeking more letters behind my name, I applied to an M.A.T. (Master in the Arts of Teaching – Philosophy) program back in Montana midway through my grad programme in Bristol. It turned out that the program was dissolved as I applied, but I was still accepted to the M.A. program in Philosophy if I wished to attend. Even though I managed to pass my first term in England, I accepted a place back in Montana and, still working on my MA Dissertation, moved back to start a Masters in Philosophy.
After two years I didn’t quite finish that MA, which I still regret somewhat. But work, relationships, and the offer to begin an M.Phil./Ph.D. back in England won over in my list of priorities.
So I returned to the UK to begin my Ph.D. That was a while ago and I am just now finally in the ‘writing up’ / final phase of my work.
To list every teacher who has had a strongly positive impact on me seems silly, but I think acknowledgement is warranted. So I’ll do my best to list them with just last names (granted many of my ‘teachers’ were not academic teachers, but still had an impact on me – to include everyone would take days):
I’m sure I have overlooked many. But, in any case, thank you all. And to all of the non-academic teachers I’ve had over the years, thank you too.
- wiki on World Teacher’s Day