Sunday, December 25, 2005

Mrs. McMichen an Extraordinary Teacher

Mrs. McMichen was an English teacher at Dora High School for many years. The impact she had on students who passed through those halls was remarkable. Many have told me that once they completed her classes that English 101 in college was a breeze. I wouldn’t know because I dodged Mrs. McMichen. I went to summer school one year so that I could graduate from high school a year early and one of the classes I took was senior English. It was by design. Everyone had told me that she was a bear in class and since I was loading up to get out early, I didn’t want to fail English. That was one of those life choices I lived to regret. I have struggled with English all my life. I failed freshman English in college once. I dropped out failing a second time and only on the third attempt did I squeak by. To further drive home the error, I decided later in life that I actually loved writing and what I didn’t know did hurt me.
The sad part for me is that I’ve always loved Mrs. McMichen. Her mother and father lived across the road from my family in West Pratt and they were the neatest people. I often went across the road in the summertime and sat on the porch and drank lemonade with Mr. and Mrs. Galloway. The house was always white as a church and the floors had a fresh coat of grey paint. The hedges were always trimmed to perfection and their yard looked like it was kept by the grounds keeper at Augusta Country Club.
Later when I got old enough to drive, I cut grass for people in the area. One of my clients was Mrs. McMichen. She had a small yard, but it was steeper than the ski slope in Gatlinburg. I cut the front with a rope tied to the handle of the lawnmower…pulling it up and letting it down with the rope. Mrs. McMichen would always say “I can’t wait to have you in my class.” She was a petite and gracious woman who spoke impeccable English. I never heard her raise her voice. When she would have to put someone in line, her voice would get stern and you knew she meant business.
I had the good sense in later years to visit with her mom and dad before they passed away and record them talking about how they met and how they come to live in West Pratt. I later gave that tape to Mrs. McMichen and she thanked me every time she saw me for that simple act.
In thinking about the past, I have very few regrets. The decision to take senior English in summer school and dodge her is one I do regret because I truly believe she would have made my path easier.
Mrs. McMichen passed away on December 24th 2005. As her spirit ascends to that higher place she can go with the knowledge that during her time here on earth she made a profound impact on my life and the lives of countless others who knew and loved her.

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