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

The world lost a pretty amazing soul last week.
My high school English teacher, Mrs. Pierce, passed away on March 19th.
This isn’t the first teacher to leave this Earth since I have become an adult but it was the first one that made me cry.
Mrs. Pierce was one of those teachers.
The kind of teacher who sticks out in your memory. I can hear her raspy voice as she taught me about paragraph lengths, I can see her in a floral dress as she floats around the room to check on everybody’s paperwork.
In my 11th grade year, I learned to love my writing, to have confidence in my schoolwork, that my stories are important and that they need to be told.
All of these things I learned from Mrs. Pierce.

In the spring of 1987, I was hanging out with what was considered the absolute “wrong” crowd.
Wrong for who? Wrong for me, that was clear.
Up until this particular spring, I had been an average student but I was always fairly meek, mild-mannered, and fell under the radar.
Most of the friends I associated with were honor students, were in the National Honor Society, Student Council Representatives, groomed for greatness with their early scholarship offers and many college visits.
Meanwhile, I was none of those things and I hadn’t visited any colleges because I knew that I would most definitely not be a part of that whole scene.
I could barely stand to be in high school and the thought of doing another four years of education killed me inside a little.
Within my high school, I didn’t fit in with my friends academically and quite honestly, I felt like I was invisible a lot of the time.
That’s a lot to sit with when you are a teenager.

Classroom Chair and Desk

During my junior year, I ended up sitting next to a girl in Mrs. Pierce’s class who would open my eyes to a world that was quite different than what I had been accustomed to.
Skipping classes, smoking in the parking lot, drinking every weekend at the ski resort where she hung out with her group of friends.
She was exciting to me, completely outside of my comfort zone.
She struggled to pay attention in class, also hated school, and had no college plans as well. I felt an immediate kinship with my new friend. Where had she been all of my life?

Over the winter of my junior year, she brought me into her group of friends who were mostly boys.
Boys who were smoking weed, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes.
I watched as my new friends would go into drug dealers’ homes while I would wait in the car alone in the dark.
I was next to my friend while she walked out of our smalltown grocery store with a stolen bottle of wine and I said nothing.
I would ride in the backseat of cars whose drivers were high or completely buzzed while listening to loud music and driving down curvy roads in the middle of winter.
I got drunk for the very first time on an embarrassingly small amount of orange wine coolers in the back of a Cutlass Supreme and then proceeded to throw it all up over the picnic tables at the local highway McDonald’s where I ended up working a few months later.
I had my first real kiss in the back of that same Cutlass Supreme.

I was a completely different person than I was just a few weeks before, almost shocking my own self at the transformation.

Previously, I was dressing the part of a play in which I struggled to fit in for many years of my life and here I was finally feeling like I could fit in with this crowd, who didn’t judge me for anything other than how hard I could drink a beer.

 

Woman Holding Chin Sitting Beside Table in Room
My face all through high school

Mrs. Pierce had a front-row seat to the madness that was my junior year of high school and though she most definitely saw the metamorphosis, she never said anything other than to encourage the words on the paper in front of me. The difficulties I was having with my family and my old friends, the disagreements, and the back and forth, were all playing out on the paper in front of me in her classroom.

It was in her class that I realized my writing could become an escape. An escape without having to drink a case of wine coolers or smoke a joint or dress in all black to prove how edgy I was. Trying to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be. Without the pressure of parents or old friends or new friends. Writing could be a way for me not to dress the part anymore.

In Mrs. Pierce’s class, I was so much more than the dumb girl with smart friends or the one girl in her friend group who wasn’t in the National Honor Society or the cool chick who secretly spit out the beer she just “drank” back into the bottle because she was terrified of getting drunk but also terrified of being found out.

In Mrs. Pierce’s class, I was finally the student I desperately wanted to be because of the way she taught me, the way she responded to even my most mundane stories. Because she didn’t judge my grammar, my sentence structure, she just let me write.

Just get it on the paper…

It was late spring 1987, near the end of my rebellious streak when Mrs. Pierce came to me with one of my papers in her hand and said, ” Kari, I can’t wait to read the book you someday write“.

I can still see her genuinely smiling at me as she turned to head back to her desk at the front of the room.

Did my English teacher just tell me that I could be a writer? That I could write a book? Don’t writers have to be good at algebra? Don’t writers have to love to read?

Turns out, writers just need to be good at telling their stories.


Mrs. Pierce is the only thing I remember about the school portion of my junior year in high school. To be honest, she is really the only teacher I can remember distinctly from my entire high school career.

My 11th-grade English teacher believed in me despite all of the superficial changes she saw within me that year.

The teacher who saw beyond my dark clothing, my disengaged face, my grades, and instead, looked into my ability. Something not many other teachers could do in my little Ohio high school during that time period.

She is the teacher whom I talk about in my About Me page at the top of my blog who is “rolling her eyes”. She is also the only teacher I will dedicate my someday book to. She made a huge impression on me at a very impressionable time of my life.

I wish for everyone to have a Mrs. Pierce.

 


Here is a journal entry I saved from her class in 11th grade. It isn’t the piece she was referring to about “reading the book I would someday write” but it’s the only paper I saved from her class. Why? Because I got an A on it.

A grade I rarely, if ever, saw in high school. 

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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