Thank You To Centennial Junior High School Teachers

This post is a continuation of the outstanding teachers I had in my life. Are you thanking a teacher today? Please don’t tell me a teacher never did anything for you. If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Junior High School

My junior high school years were the best. I think that’s the main reason I love teaching 7th grade. I could be here forever if I told you about each teacher. But this year, I’m choosing only one teacher because he is still teaching me something new about life.

Mr. Harrabey Friedman was my 8th grade advanced U.S. History teacher. To be honest, I could write an entire post on all of the things I’ve learned from him. Hmm…what to do?

While I was his student, I learned that playing games like Telephone is a fun way to learn a subject that not everyone finds interesting. I learned that having a sense of humor is as important for the student as it is for the teacher. I’ll never forget the day he told me that I had to go to the main office because I had been written up on a referral. I’d never even had a detention in my life. My mom was going to kill me. I asked him why. He didn’t know. To make matters worse, he open the sliding wall that divided his class with Mr. Prohias to announce to my boyfriend at the time that I was being sent to the office. Mr. Friedman found the entire situation hilarious. Meanwhile, I’m totally embarrassed. I’m crying silent tears but he told me not to worry about it. He was right. Nothing happened. But I never forgot that day.

Mr. Friedman was in charge of student government and the dances after school. I loved the dances. It was clean fun. We had competitions for best air band or best Halloween costume. There was always something interesting. I loved that he told me I should run for school president. What a confidence booster!

After 9th grade, I didn’t see Mr. Friedman until I was 26 years old. He offered me a job as a substitute teacher when everyone else in Miami-Dade County Public Schools couldn’t see past the wheelchair. They didn’t think I could handle the students if they acted up. Mr. Friedman never questioned me on it.  If that’s not enough of a confidence booster, this should get you. He encouraged me to accept the job as an ESE teacher in math for students with learning disabilities while the permanent teacher was on maternity leave. I had no training in ESE and my degree was in English. It was a challenge. I couldn’t let him down. This experience continues to guide me in the classroom with my inclusion students.

But, it was my experience teaching the Emotionally Handicapped students right after that which totally made me realize that Mr. Friedman really thought I could be a competent teacher.  You haven’t taught until you are in a room for most of the day with students whose mood swings make roller coasters seem like a rush hour traffic jam.

What did I learn from him? I learned that you can be a teacher to your students in more than just your subject area. I learned that allowing someone to take on a challenge gives the person confidence to do more in other areas of life. In my classroom, I teach my students the importance of history even though I am the Language Arts teacher. I use games like Jeopardy to go over material that might not be interesting to other students. I encourage students to get involved in student government. I tell my students about my teacher who believed in me as a student, as a teacher and as a politician.

Thank you, Mr. Harrabey Friedman.

How were you middle school years?