Blogging, Childhood, Humor, Life

Mrs. Pierce

Years ago when I was blogging on the Blogger platform, I had a totally different About Me page. My bio pages have changed and evolved with each year of writing but for many years I had a tiny tribute to my 11th grade English teacher tucked in.
Essentially saying 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. Years of blogging (and Grammarly) have helped me become a better writer but at the time I created that About Me page, I was indeed a hot mess as it pertained to all things, well, writerly. 
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 an amazing soul last week.
My high school English teacher, Mrs. Pierce, passed away on March 19th.
This isn’t the first teacher to pass away since I have become an adult, but it was the first one that made me cry.
Mrs. Pierce was one of those teachers.
The ones who stick out in your memory, maybe you can hear their raspy voice as they teach you about paragraph lengths or see her in a floral dress as she floats around the room to check on your work.
I learned to love my writing from her. To have confidence in my work.  That my stories are important and need to be told.

In the spring of 1987, I was hanging out with the “wrong” crowd, rebelling, as they say.
Up until this particular year, I had been an average student, a “good girl”.
Most of my friends were honor students, straight As, groomed for greatness with their early scholarship offers and many college visits.
Meanwhile, I was just barely making the cut and I definitely 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.
I didn’t fit in with my friends academically, and that was a lot to sit with when you are an unconfident teenager.

Classroom Chair and Desk

During my junior year, I sat 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 we all hung out.
She was exciting to me, completely outside of my comfort zone.
She also struggled to pay attention in class, hated school and had no college plans.
I felt very kindred to her and thought to myself, where has she been my whole life? 

We became close friends over a several month period and during that time, I became close with her friends, mostly guys.
Guys who were smoking weed, drinking alcohol, 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 walking next to my friend while she walked out of our local grocery store with a stolen bottle of wine and I said nothing.
I would ride in cars whose drivers were high and/or completely buzzed, listening to loud music, while driving on rural, curvy roads in the middle of winter.
I got drunk for the very first time on four orange wine coolers in the back of a Cutlass Supreme then throwing it all up over the picnic tables at the local McDonald’s where I ended up working at months later.

I was a completely different person than I was just a mere weeks before.

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 “party”.

This rebel streak lasted only six months but I am sure it seemed like an eternity to my parents who fought with me, cried and prayed for me and at one point carried me back into the house over a shoulder while I was kicking and screaming.

 

Woman Holding Chin Sitting Beside Table in Room
That was my face all through high school

 

Mrs. Pierce also had a front-row seat to the madness that was my junior year of high school. From the “good” girl with stirrup pants, long sweaters and spiral permed hair to the “bad” girl with black jeans, concert tee shirts, chopped off hair, and knee-high moccasins.

Though she most definitely saw the metamorphosis, she never said anything other than to encourage my words. My writing, I realized, could be 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.

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 girl who couldn’t understand elementary algebra or who wasn’t in the National Honor Society or who couldn’t read a chapter without getting distracted and not remember what I had just read.

In Mrs. Pierce’s class, I was finally the student I wanted to be.

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.

She said to me ” Kari, I can’t wait to read the book you someday write“,

I can see her smiling at me as she headed 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 teacher who believed in me in spite of all of the superficial changes she saw within me that year.

The teacher who saw beyond my dark clothing, my scared face, my grades and looked into my ability.

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.

Thank you, Mrs. Pierce, for so much more than you probably ever knew that you gave me.

I wish for everyone to have a Mrs. Pierce.


Here is a journal entry I saved from her class in 11th grade.
It is the only paper I saved from high school but it isn’t the piece she was referring to about “reading the book I would someday write”. I say this because this entry isn’t that great but I got an A on it, which is most likely the reason I saved it. Because I rarely got an A. 

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.

12 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

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