Ever had that high school teacher that had the power to instill the fear of God in you? You know the one that was so in control that if you stepped out of line one look was usually enough? Well, unfortunately I had several of those growing up.
One of the more memorable ones was Faye Richardson. She is an English teacher I had my first year of high school (7th grade) and she is as tough as they come. Her classes were graveyard quiet. People very rarely spoke out of turn. She was so feared that if she had to raise her voice you knew you were in deep, deep trouble.
Like many of the feared teachers, she had her own urban legend. Hers was based on her immaculate hair which she kept in only ONE style. People said it was a wig – and someone had gotten suspended for swiping it off her head. I too had my doubts because there days that the school was windy and you’d see her walking along and the hair was UNFAZED. I gave up my own investigation when one day I was talking to her and saw a few streaks of grey. I was convinced, but I still could be wrong!
So that one year she taught me English, the one thing she used to do was brag about her other 7th grade class she taught. Anytime we screwed up she pulled out the “my other class is so wonderful and great” card. It motivated us to do well, but at times it surely pissed us the hell off.
I managed to bust this urban a few years later in the 10th grade when I was talking to my friend about our top ten lists of favorite teachers. So when we did the list of teachers we didn’t like, Faye Richardson’s name made the top three. Once we started swapping wars stories, I found out that he was in that other class she used to bad mouth us with. Turns out whenever they messed up, she used to use my class as the great and wonderful ones! My friend told me that he had a dislike for students in my class for that whole year!
Talk about motivation! It is now too funny to laugh at, but it surely wasn’t as funny back then.
Still, Ms Richardson wasn’t the true wicked witch of the west as her urban legend made her out to be. I remember getting assigned her class as one of the class reps as a senior and I was initially scared shitless. I was wondering how much she changed, if at all since my 7th grade encounter. To my surprise, she did mellow up a lot (at least to me anyways). Oh, she would still crack the whip with that voice and that killer stare, but I saw a softer side that made me do a double take initially but just went with it. She took on the role of more like a senior manager when I was with her class and I marveled at how well her kids responded at what I called a new version of Ms. Richardson.
I had fun working with her my last year of high school. It goes to show you sometimes the elders got to crack the whip a little to make sure you get the lessons you need to keep you moving forward in life.
Make no mistake; she is a damn fine English teacher. I still say she was the best I had. The only other person who I’ve met to be as technically sound and versed in teaching English is the retired chess expert I chat with periodically. Both their teaching techniques are incredible.
Below is a picture of two of my old teachers, including Ms. Richardson. Yes, her hair STILL looks the same (that’s her trademark style too) after all these years! Too funny indeed. But it goes to show you that teachers who do good work are always remembered and respected; especially in their times of need.