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These Teachers Made A Real Difference In My Life & I Want To Thank Them

I spent some time at Sylvan Learning Center doing a live broadcast this week as they are gearing up for summer learning and it was also Teacher Appreciation Day! It made me think about teachers who made a difference in my life and took me on a memory trip.

For me, the first teacher who made me feel like I had a something special, was Mrs. Pfeiffer at Lincoln Elementary in Yankton. She put me and another kid in a progressive reading program because she realized we were advanced in that subject. It gave a smidge of confidence to a shy, little girl who spent, (and would continue to spend) a great deal of time being bullied.

I had three very memorable teachers in high school; Senora Tereshinski, (Spanish of course), Mr. Fischer, (creative writing and literature) and Mr. Haigh, (British Literature and Driver’s Ed).

Mrs. T., as we called her, was a beautiful, vivacious, whip-smart woman with a voracious knowledge of language and mathematics, (her true love) and a wicked sense of humor. She made just about every class a fun adventure. And she made me feel smart. I loved Spanish then and still do. I just wish I could take a refresher course from her now!

Mr. Fischer was a bearded, bespectacled teddy bear of a man, with a keen intellect and a sly sense of the absurd. He came off as stern to many but not me and my older sister Carmela, who also adored him. He encouraged my love of writing and I treasured the class so much, I got special permission to take a study hall period sitting in his class the next semester.

Mr. Haigh was a big guy with a big smile, big brain and big personality. He gave me an even greater appreciation of all things British literature; Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens, Wilde and Austen to name a but a few. And again, he made me feel smart and encouraged that smarty-pants attitude when approaching writing papers. Mr. Haigh was also the person tasked with teaching me to drive and for that I apologize.

The late Dr. Vincent Angotti, who was chairman of the theater department when I started at USD in Vermillion, was one of the first people to agree with me that choosing acting was the right move. He told me at one point that I had, “a real gift, a natural talent and that I would do well in the acting business”. Who knows, maybe I would have, if life hadn’t led elsewhere, but I cherish the memory.

These individuals all had a contributing role in creating the person I became. So please, feel free to blame them!

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