Ms. Merrick wore jeans.
This might not seem like a big deal to you, but in 1980, in a small, conservative town and tight-knit school – jeans were a very big deal.
All but one of my primary school teachers were women. They all had the ‘teacher hair’ -either high on their head in beehives or buns, or cut short and styled tight like Carol Brady or Dorothy Hamill. They wore smart skirts at or past their knees and blouses with ties. Their shoes were flat or slightly and widely heeled and shined appropriately. They were either a Miss or a Mrs. and were as traditional in their teachings as in their dress.
But Ms. Merrick wore jeans. She went by ‘Ms’ and kept her blond hair down and long and sometimes even in braids. Ms. Merrick came to school one December day sobbing and didn’t stop for a week as she mourned the death of John Lennon. She took his tragic death and turned it into a lesson about The Beetles, popular music, British culture, and taking chances and doing what you love.
Ms. Merrick would let us do our math homework outside, let us bring art and knitting to class that we could do if we finished assignments – and taught us to macrame. She’d talk fashion and Shakespeare, and The Brady Bunch and Vietnam, and the Hustle and the Klan.
Ms. Merrick made learning interesting, took an interest in her students, and was the first women that I really knew who inspired me, as a women, that I could be whatever I wanted to be.
Whether I chose to wear jeans or not.
I remember hugging her tightly on the last day of sixth grade, telling her that no one had or would ever make an impact on my life like she had.
And to this day, I can still easily picture Ms. Merrick in the front on the sixth grade class with her huge smile, friendly eyes and open arms as she made us not just interested in learning and math, but in our world and what we could do to make an impact.
Ms. Merrick, for me, represented not only a wonderful, engaged, knowledgeable and inspiring teacher; but also a role model as a strong, educated women who wanted to send her students into the world with a well-rounded mind, kind heart and spirited plan.
Do you have a teacher that inspired you?
As we all know, it’s time to make a Real Change for our teachers. Did you know that 92% of teachers spend an average of $1,000 of their own money each year on school supplies for their classrooms? That totals over $1.3 billion annually. We need to give our teachers the resources they need to thrive to give our kids the kind of classrooms and education that they deserve.
Office Depot is the proud sponsor of the Star-Studded Artists for Education TV special that airs on 4/23/2013. Check your local listings and watch exclusively online at www.officedepot.com/realchange. This REAL Change special features top musical acts, highlighting the heroic role of education and teachers.
Watch the trailer and I know you will tune-in…
Office Depot cares about teachers and their challenges and understands what they need to thrive. It’s time to support our teachers. So please, I invite you to watch this very special broadcast and let’s start making a REAL Change.
Disclosure: I am an Office Depot REAL Change blog ambassador. This post is part of a campaign where I was compensated for my time. To learn more about REAL Change, visit their website.