The most valuable course I took in high school was typing. I took two semesters of it my sophomore year at Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois. By the end of the second semester, I was typing between 60 and 70 words per minute on a manual typewriter. My typing teacher walked around the room while we students typed. She had a yardstick in her hand that she used to whack us with on our backs when our posture was the slightest bit off and on the backs of our hands when our hand positions were not proper. I received a good number of these “whackings.” She was mean. None of us liked her. She didn’t care. She was there to teach, not be popular.
Creative writing, also taken during my sophomore year, comes in at a close second. One day, while the class was busy writing something, Mrs. Grimsley called me to her desk. In a voice purposefully loud enough the whole class stopped writing and watched me squirm, she told me my latest theme was “trash.” She handed it back to me, told me to do it over, and made it clear the best grade I could hope for was a C. To say I was humiliated is an understatement. A room full of stifled giggles accompanied the long walk back to my desk. By the way, I had most definitely turned in hastily-written trash, hoping she’d let her best student slide. No such luck.
Neither of these teachers would be allowed to teach today, not unless they repented of their evil ways, which I suspect neither would do. Mind you, I thank these two teachers often, to this day. During my 12 years of school (I did not attend Kindergarten), no teachers made a more positive contribution to my life than these two meanies. Both of them cared about me.