As an educator, I know the importance of reaching my students on all levels. Not only do I serve as a math teacher, but I’m also an advisor, disciplinarian, nurse, career counselor, and tutor and life coach. I’ve been told few times that I was a student’s favorite teacher. Working in a middle school environment has taught me that pre-pubescent boys and girls often change their minds. So, I’ve taken it with a grain of salt. It’s not that I’m not a great educator, but I won’t know the impact of my influence until much later.
After over twelve years of involuntary schooling (including kindergarten), and four years of undergraduate study, one teacher still holds the top spot as my favorite of them all.
I met Miriam C. Arthur, or Senorita Arthur when I was an awkward, introverted sixth grader during summer school at North Dade Middle School. At first I thought I was in the wrong classroom. My mom had signed me up for the Magnet Program where, for the next three years, I would be immersed in a world of Spanish language and culture. So, when I walked into the second floor classroom in June 1993 or ’94, I was surprised to find a petite, smiling woman, with skin like mine. In a matter of minutes I found out that the squeaky-voiced, brace-faced, eager teacher wasn’t a sub, like I’d incorrectly assumed, but she was, in fact, the Spanish instructor.
For the next three years, I learned all there was to know about the Spanish language and culture. To this day, I know the capital of every Spanish-speaking country; all thanks to Senorita Arthur.
What she gave me (and other students) stretched beyond a second language. In watching her, I learned what it meant to persevere; work harder than all the rest. Miriam C. Arthur was born in Caracas, Venezuela . She often told us, “It’s where the ship took my family from Africa. Some of us went to Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, my family got dropped off in Venezuela.” Miriam came to the United States, New York, if I’m not mistaken, when she was still in school. Though unfamiliar with the language, Miriam worked diligently to learn English and went on to attend Fisk University. By the time she became my Spanish teacher, she had obtained both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen her in passing, at events, and even online, (thanks to Facebook) and she’s always as encouraging (but not as strict) as she was when she was my teacher.
Every time I open my mouth to speak a Spanish word, I thank her. She was an innovative educator who made speaking a non-native tongue, cool. She translated popular songs into Spanish to make the language more familiar to us and I still remember every word to the Coca-Cola song in Spanish. I’ve gotten jobs because I am bi-lingual, I’ve helped at my congregation, I can communicate when I travel overseas (Spain, I will see you next summer). The invaluable lessons I learned through her relatable approach to education make me a stronger educator and a more well-rounded person. To say Thank You would do no justice to the gift she has given me.
I truly wouldn’t be who I am today if I had never met my favorite teacher. Senorita Arthur has gone from teacher to Assistant Principal and I’m quite sure that soon, she will be Principal at one very lucky school!
Through all my years of schooling no other teacher has had quite the same effect on me as Ms. Miriam C. Arthur.
Who’s your favorite teacher? Why?