Clyde’s Corner: Through our school years, the teachers were terrific!

by Clyde Whitaker

Hello again everyone, and I trust all are doing well after a busy December. I’ve been thinking about my January column, and remembering some of the teachers we had in school brought back happy memories.

I cannot possibly mention everyone here who taught us, but my gratitude goes out to each and every teacher who took the time to teach us, took the time to know us, took the time to be our friend.

Mrs. Ranck was my third grade teacher at Smith Elementary. I remember her as a grandmotherly type, very considerate and kind, but she knew when to settle down some of us guys having a little too much energy. I really liked Mrs. Ranck. She taught for many years, helped many students.

When I turned 10, my family moved to the country just outside of Munith. I attended Katz Elementary there in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades. My fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Mitchell. She was a tall and somewhat intimidating presence to us fifth graders. John Stanfield and I were always fighting over something, so one day Mrs. Mitchell kept us in for recess and told us we could go out only when we had learned to reason with each other and stopped the fighting. After 10 minutes of silence, John and I looked at each other and said, “let’s be friends.” We ran outside to play and, indeed, we did become good friends. John was the best man at my wedding; sadly he passed away a few years ago.

Another teacher I admired was our counselor Mr. Lawrie. He was a low-keyed, smiling, compassionate person who took an interest in me. He knew I wanted to pitch in the pros immediately after school, but he pushed me and pushed me to attend college first, saying that I could pitch there then turn pro. But sadly, and with deep regret now, I did not take his advice. I was too hardheaded, but he sure tried. We had many, many talks about this. He was such a kindhearted man, one of my favorite teachers.

Mr. Barry was a teacher I had for literature. A veteran, he was a big pipe smoker and when he came into the classroom, the aroma from the pipe in his jacket filled the air. He was a pretty strict teacher, and we gave him a hard time, just goofing around, but I liked him and the effort he put into teaching us about literature.

For American history, my teacher was Mr. Johnston. He was a man of short stature but a very intelligent and worldly man. Always dressed to the hilt, he would click his heels on the floor as he walked around the room. He was always engaging and fun to talk with, a good man.

I definitely learned organization from my wood shop teacher Mr. Radowski. He believed in a place for every tool. One day, at the end of class, I hurried out of the room to get to basketball practice, and I forgot to hang up a drill I was using, instead leaving it on the table. Well, the next day Mr. Radowski confronted me and said I had a choice: a detention or three WHACKS, as he put it, for leaving the drill on the table. I protested, saying I had to get to basketball practice. He didn’t relent, so, having to get to practice, I bent over a table and he gave me three WHACKS with a wooden paddle. This was a lesson that served me well in my career… take care of the small things and the big things will be easy.

Well folks, I could write many more stories like these but this will have to do for now. I am sure all of you have stories about the teachers in your life as well.

In closing, it is always my honor, privilege and pleasure to present these real-life stories to you. Until next time, take care of one another and treasure each and every day you are given.

All teacher photos were provided by Clyde Whitaker.

Mr. James Lawrie was the counselor who tried
his hardest to get Clyde Whitaker to go to

Mr. Robert Barry taught literature and loved
to smoke his pipe before class.

Mr. Howard Johnston was a very articulate teacher who
clicked his heels on the floor as he walked around the room.

Mr. Frank Radowski was the wood shop teacher who
taught Clyde the value of being organized and efficient.

Clyde Whitaker is a 1973 Stockbridge graduate. He and his wife, Mary, raised four children in Stockbridge, and they still reside in the Stockbridge area.

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