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Just as I can track the history of teachers I adored who made a difference in my life throughout my education, there are plenty of teachers in books I read who have also made a big impression. Below are some of my favorites.
Mr. Slinger from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. Not only is he the coolest mouse teacher around (with similar taste in snacks to mine—those cheese curls have captured my imagination for years…) but the note he leaves in Lilly’s beloved purse gets me every time. “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better”—some of the best words to ever come from a teacher.
Miss Nelson/Miss Viola Swamp from the Miss Nelson series by James Marshall. Miss Nelson is the sweetest teacher in school, and her class totally takes advantage of her. So it’s a delightful relief when Viola Swamp, a substitute teacher with a legendary reputation, shows up to whip the class into shape.
Mr. Falker from Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. Mr. Falker champions a class underdog, encouraging her reading and helping her get the help she needs to learn in school, defending her from the class bully, and, perhaps most importantly, praising her artwork and recognizing the talents she already has. The dedication at the front of the book from Patricia Polacco to her real-life teacher, Mr. Felker, is a heartwarming shout-out to a person who changed her life.
Ms. Honey from Matilda by Roald Dahl. Ms. Honey shines as the only kind person among a sea of pretty awful adults. She sees what is special about Matilda when others overlook her. But what really makes her stand out in my mind is that she spends time with Matilda outside of the school day. So many teachers make that time, and I think it makes students feel super special and teachers seem more human.
Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I love all of the Hogwarts professors, but Professor McGonagall has a special place in my heart because she is fair, she has high standards, and while she’s not looking to be the students’ favorite, she is always supportive of them when they need it most. Her secret competitive streak also cracks me up, especially in relation to Quidditch. (Substitute “football” for “Quidditch” and all these reasons are also why she reminds me of my favorite high-school English teacher.)
Swim coach Max Il Song from Stotan! by Chris Crutcher. Although the stories of the four swim-team friends and their lives out of the pool are the focus of the story, Coach Il Song is the driving force giving his athletes the strength to overcome the obstacles they face. Sometimes the teachers who push hardest are the ones you love and thank the most as you grow
Author Bio: Mia Cabana is a managing editor of online copy at Scholastic Book Clubs. She has also worked as a young adult librarian and dreams of someday joyriding around the country in her own bookmobile.
May 7, 2013