Many of us can recall our teachers

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Column by Jim Clark

There was a song about school back in the 1950s from a singer named Chuck Berry. A couple of lines from the songs included “The teacher is teaching the golden rule,” and “Gee, but the teacher don’t know how mean she looks.”
I never thought about teachers looking mean, but I always appreciated the work they did, and now I have one in my family. Over the years, government has taken over more and more, providing regulations that hamper the teaching profession.
When you write a column 52 weeks a year, and you add an editorial for many of those weeks, you have to have various sources for material. For this week, in addition to a news release about teacher demonstrations, I got the idea from a priest on television, of all places, giving a sermon on EWTN, the Catholic network. I didn’t record the message, but I think I can come pretty close.
How many of you can name the last five Super Bowl winners in order, without error? How many can name the last five World Series winners in order, without error? How many can name the last five presidential election losers, in order, without error? How many can name the winners of the last five New Hampshire primaries, in order, without error?
All these things seem so important at the time, but they go to the back of a person’s mind rather quickly.
But here’s another question: How many of you can name five teachers throughout your educational years that had an effect on your life? That question seems to be a lot easier for many people.
For me, the top of my list includes Vic Liggio, a teacher at Bergen Catholic High School, who taught a class called Problems of American Democracy in my senior year. He gave us an assignment to write about something going on in Congress, and I forgot until the last minute. I wrote a summary from my head in about 10 minutes, but a few others got to read theirs before me … and they were boring. When I read mine, Mr. Liggio grabbed my paper, wrote a big “A” on it, and said, “Well, it’s about time somebody said something.” I figured if I could write something that good in 10 minutes, maybe I should make it a career. It worked.
Then there was kindergarten teacher Mrs. McLaughlin, first-grade teacher Sister Richard Marie, second-grade teacher Sister Marie Edina, all of whom helped shape my early years. Finally, there was high school basketball coach John Mazziotta, for whom I was student manager and sat next to him on the bench for a few years. He taught me how to coach and handle young people, and I made a great hobby of coaching youth sports over the years.
How about you? I’m sure you can remember some teachers you admired a lot easier than who won the last few Super Bowls or World Series.
What brought all this about was that news item about demonstrations backing teachers all across the nation. Here in Marion County, the release reached us too late to get in last week’s papers, and by the time you read this it will be over. I join in backing teachers in their effort to acquire better pay and benefits, and I think a lot of them just want to be able to teach, something they were taught very well how to do, free of government interference.
We should all be in favor of that.
Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.

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