Blogging, Childhood, Humor, Life

Mrs. Pierce

My bio pages have evolved with each year of writing but for many years I had a tribute to my 11th grade English teacher tucked in. It essentially said that she would be rolling her eyes right now if she saw my blog because of my horrible grasp of the English language and grammar. 
I took Mrs. Pierce off of my About Me page for no other reason than I wanted a change when I moved to WordPress in 2017. But it made me sad that I took her off of there considering how much she meant to me and my writing. 
Recently, I wrote about Mrs. Pierce again and how an email at a dark time came just when I needed it and it made me revisit this post, make the appropriate edits (she would be so proud), and reshare it again. But I still felt like something was missing from my About Me page. 

First published March 27, 2014


Doris Pierce Obituary - Mansfield, Ohio | Legacy.com
Courtesy/ Legacy.com

Last week, the world lost a really remarkable soul.
My high school English teacher, Mrs. Pierce, died on March 19th.
This isn’t the first teacher to pass away since I became an adult, but it was the first to make me cry.
I can still hear her raspy voice as she teaches me about paragraph lengths. I can envision her in her signature floral dress floating about the room checking everyone’s papers.
In my 11th grade year, I learned to love my writing, to have confidence in my schoolwork, and to believe that my stories are essential and must be told.
All of these things I learned from Mrs. Pierce.

I had been an ordinary student until the spring of 1987. I was usually mild-mannered, quite modest, and typically went unnoticed by most of my teachers and fellow students.
Most of my friends were honor students, members of the National Honor Society, Student Council Representatives, and were being groomed for greatness with their early scholarship offers and many college visits.
Meanwhile, I was none of those things.
I hated high school, and the prospect of another four years of education killed me inside a little.
I didn’t fit in academically with my friends in high school, and I honestly felt invisible a lot of the time.

Classroom Chair and Desk

During my junior year, I wound up sitting next to a girl in Mrs. Pierce’s class who would introduce me to a world that was very different from what I was used to.
She skipped school, smoked and drank every weekend at the ski resort where she hung out with her friends.
She was exciting to me since she was entirely outside of my comfort zone.
She also despised school and had no plans for college. My new friend and I hit it off right away.

During the winter of my junior year, she included me in her group of largely male friends. Boys who smoked marijuana, drank booze, and smoked cigarettes. I watched as my new friends went into drug dealers’ homes as I sat in the car alone in the dark in the car.
I was standing next to my friend while she walked out of our little village grocery store carrying a stolen bottle of wine, and I said nothing.
I used to travel in the backseats of cars driven by people who drivers were drunk or stoned.
I got drunk for the very first time on an absurdly little number of orange wine coolers in the back of a Cutlass Supreme and then proceeded to puke all over the picnic tables at the nearby highway McDonald’s where I ended up working a few months later.
In the back of that same Cutlass Supreme, I had my first real kiss.

I was a completely different person than I had been only a few weeks earlier, almost astounded by the transformation.

Previously, I had been dressing up for a play in which I fought to fit in for many years of my life, and now I felt like I could finally fit in with this crowd, who didn’t judge me for anything other than how fast I could chug a beer.

Woman Holding Chin Sitting Beside Table in Room

Mrs. Pierce had a front-row seat to the craziness that was my junior year of high school, and while she watched the transformation, she never said anything other than to help me get the words out onto the paper in front of me. The problems I was having with my family and old friends were all reflected on the paper in front of me.

It was in her class that I understood writing could be a form of escape for me. An escape without having to consume a case of wine coolers, smoke a joint, or dress in all black to prove my edginess. I was still trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. Writing could be a solution for me to stop dressing the part.

In Mrs. Pierce’s class, I was much more than the dumb girl with smart friends. In Mrs. Pierce’s class, I was much more than the quiet chick who secretly spit out the beer she had “drank” back into the bottle because she was terrified of getting drunk but also terrified of being discovered.

Mrs. Pierce’s class was the first time I felt like the student I so wanted to be because how she taught me and how she responded to even my most mundane stories. She didn’t evaluate my grammar, or sentence structure, she just let me write.


Mrs. Pierce approached me in late spring 1987, near the end of my rebellious streak, holding one of my papers and said, “Kari, I can’t wait to read the book you someday write“. I can still see her genuine smile as she returned to her desk at the front of the room. Did my English teacher just tell me I had the potential to be a writer? That I’d be able to write a book? Don’t writers have to be good at school? Don’t writers have to enjoy reading?

It turns out that writers only need to be good at telling their stories.


Mrs. Pierce is the only thing good about my junior year in high school. To be honest, she is really the only teacher I can remember vividly from my entire high school experience.

Despite the superficial changes she observed in me that year, my 11th grade teacher believed in me.

I intend to dedicate my future book to her.

She left a lasting influence on me at a crucial time in my life.

I wish for everyone to have a Mrs. Pierce.


Here is a journal entry I kept from her class. It isn’t the piece she was referring to regarding “reading the book I would someday write,” but it’s the only piece I saved from her class. Why? Because I received an A. In high school, I rarely, if ever, saw this grade.

A piece from Mrs. Pierce's English class. My favorite teacher

I can vaguely remember my kindergarten to 6th-grade years at my elementary schools. But one thing I can remember is the teachers not granting freedom to us kids. We had to do exactly what was expected of us or we would get into “trouble”. Trouble usually meant not getting to have our “breaks” or having to stay in during recess. Now, if we get into trouble, it either means detention or suspension from school. 
The teaching methods are a lot different also. We do harder subjects and we learn how to apply them to our society. Teachers now help us to understand why reading, writing, speech, mathematics, and science are important for us in the future. All that was important in our younger years was that we could learn how to do all of those subjects. We didn’t or rarely had to worry about homework. We’d go out and play with our friends and not have to worry about things like tests, finals, bad grade cards, detentions, notes from the main office and the guidance office.
When we were younger, we didn’t have “cliques”, such as the “popular” group or the “hoods” or the “nerds”. We didn’t cut down on people because they couldn’t dress nicely or weren’t as rich. We all played together and it didn’t matter. We were good friends and that’s all that mattered. Sometimes I wish I were a kid again. 
I didn’t have as many problems and I know we all had more friends.

31 thoughts on “Mrs. Pierce”

  1. Lovely. I am glad she inspired you to keep writing! I clicked on this because my daughter's current and my son's former 1st grade teacher is named Mrs. Pierce, and she is a wonderful woman and everything a teacher should be. I wonder how many more there are?

    Like

  2. Shared to Chicago Public Fools. Hope that's okay with you. My readers really love teachers. Everybody has that one perfect teacher who sees us and gets it and says just the right thing. God bless Mrs. Pierce! This made me teary.

    Like

  3. She was write that was well said. I love that I can hear your today voice in your yesterday voice. Well two yesterdays, 2014 and 1987. Your writing always feels like home in a way that a show like the wonder years feels like home. The way that a good book feels like home, or a warm blanket. There’s a softness to it but also a realness that looks right inside of you and let’s you know that you’re not alone.

    You are a good story teller, my friend. I’m grateful to be amongst women like Mrs. Pierce as one of your readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Noooo. I need to. THAT should be what I am doing in quarantine but sadly, I am not.
      Honestly, if I could nail down what I want my book to be about, I would work on it night and day.
      I need to figure that out instead of looking up memes in the middle of the night or pinning desserts I never plan to make LOL.

      Like

      1. Why DO we do that? Pinning the food we won’t make… sheesh. I hear ya. You will find it, your book that is. In the meantime I’m loving the memes. I will miss them once you tuck away into your writer’s den.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a great story. No wonder you like John Hughes movies so much. I had a teacher, Mrs. Kaiser, who pulled me aside sophmore year. She spoke gruff to everyone. Rough around the edges. No sugar coating. It was an all girls’ school- called us all by our last name. Anyway, she told me to run for student council. Said I was a leader. Said kids would follow me. You could have blown me over. I was a quiet kid with occasinal sarcastic remarks whispered under my breath. Leader? Huh? She saw something I didn’t know I had. Game changer. Love me a good teacher. So glad you had a game changer too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mrs. Pierce sounds like a very special teacher and I’m glad you had her. Thank you for sharing this with us. I know it made me look back fondly at some of my special teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Everyone should have a Mrs. Pierce

    You are so good at storytelling. I feel like I was right next to you in 1987, as if I was living it alongside you.

    That is a great writer, Kari. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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