How many people in their seventies still have teachers? I have no idea, but I have several teachers for whom I feel grateful. Thanks, Debbie, Emily, Barbara, Nancy, Barrie, Maile, Nerissa, and JoAnne, this is for you.
Eight teachers, that’s a lot or the number seems high for people my age. Let me tell you about each of them, because I love each one. The person I’ve known the longest is Debbie, my tap dancing teacher, introduced to me through a friend, Nanda, who I know through a neighborhood group. She arrived at our group about five years ago and mentioned her tap-dancing class, held at local Senior Centers, and I was captivated. As she answered my many questions, I gradually recognized how much I wanted to try this.
Unlike some of my classmates, I had never taken tap or any dance class as a child. Nanda told me that Debbie had shoes available to borrow, that she loved the class, and that Debbie was kind and patient. I was determined to try it, knowing that I could return the borrowed shoes and quit anytime. Or, if I liked it, I could buy my own tap shoes. I tried it, I liked it, I bought my own tap shoes, and I love the women I tap with. Debbie’s patience with us is just about infinite. The songs we dance to are all oldies, fitting for our ages, sixties through eighties.
After attending tap at the Marblehead Senior Center, I noticed an ad for another class there, Dance for Joy. That class, taught by Nancy, was a combination of Tai Chi, yoga, stretches, and jiggling. Nancy is someone whose persona permeates joy.
Then came Covid. Each of these classes ended for a month or so, then each started again on Zoom. Each teacher went through a technology learning curve quickly, I think, and I believe them to be responsible for maintaining my sanity during this past Covid year.
Two other dance teachers who use a similar dance style to Nancy (Shake your Soul) are Emily and Barbara. They are located at senior centers about two hours away from me, so it is only because of Zoom that I can participate. Also, it is only because each was willing to share information about the other classes that I even knew that they exist and that they welcome new students.
Another class that I started about three years ago at the Beverly Senior Center was in writing, taught by Barrie. She provided a writing prompt, which we would use as fodder for writing prior to our once-a-month class. Then, during class, we would read aloud from our work and hear classmates’ responses. This class was also interrupted by Covid, then resumed six months later, every two weeks on Zoom. Barrie intermittently used one of our papers to offer corrections and comments as instruction, always with permission and with kindness.
It was during the period before Barrie’s Zoom sessions began that I signed up for a writing class with Nerissa, who I knew only as a singer/songwriter. This was significant, because this class cost real money, not the token few dollars that we paid for Senior Center classes. It marked a transition for me, in recognition of what writing was starting to mean to me. I’m now on my second ten-week commitment with her and two months into authoring a blog, publishing one article each week.
Then, a casual friend, Maile, now working at a local library, started a new one-hour class: Shut Up and Write! It was simply a commitment to write during that hour. Maile has a sweet and supportive attitude that makes me happy to join her for this writing hour.
The last teacher who I want to recognize is JoAnne, who was my math teacher forty years ago when I was a math major as an undergraduate. She was the only woman professor in the math department. It had recently occurred to me that, without being conscious of it, she had served as my role model during the eleven years I taught Algebra before I retired. I looked her up on Facebook about six months ago and we have reconnected with Zoom. I have loved our time together, whether remembering past times or enjoying sharing bits of our current lives.
So, Emily, Barbara, and JoAnne are in my life because of Covid. To each of you eight teachers in my life right now, I am very grateful. I cannot imagine this past year without you in it. I thank you for your patience, your desire to teach, your acceptance of my limited skills, your talent in what you do, and the delight you each give to my life. Thank you, teachers❤️.