An unforgettable teacher

Challenged by Hallmark to share a story of an inspiring teacher, I went blank. Though I have several fond memories of school, I can barely remember the teacher’s names — even those that I adored.

But I’m pretty sure that Facebook was invented to jog memories such as this; my former classmates were able to help me piece together one of my treasured I-never-thought-I’d-forget-it memories.

This morning, I sent out this request:

Umm, do you recall any details about our Olympics of the Mind trip? I think it was in 2nd or 3rd grade? With some teacher? About some topic? To some destination? I’m writing on a deadline…ha!

Thanks to their superior memories and quick research tactics (like reading old journals or asking their parents), my fellow Mind Olympians worked again as a team, and I now have a clearer memory of our most awesome teacher, Ms. Flanagan. She set me on a path of travel, creativity, and list-making and I’m sure she doesn’t even know it.

About a million years ago, a team of five third graders from my little town competed in the Olympics of the Mind against a whole heap of other grade school kids. We were in the Cruppets (abbreviation for Creative Puppets) division.

Me and my hazy memories

Our team wrote and performed a fantastically ridiculous quest about Benjamin Franklin being blasted into the future while flying his kite in a storm; he ended up in the eighties and discovered amazing things like the microwave oven and the modern-day post office. We also did several superfun brainstorming challenges. According to Brad’s old notes, I was very good at this.

It tickles me to learn this as Whitney and I are currently working as consultants to a few companies, specifically by facilitating brainstorms for them (not to meniton built this here website and our two books). Apparently, I have Ms. Flanagan to thank for my current job prospects.

We had two fearless parent coaches and one wonderful teacher to wrangle us as we wrote the script, designed the set and puppets (while whispering about boys and drinking pop), and prepared to conquer the world with our fantastic Mind Olympic feats.

Like the kids on Glee, we attended several competitions: District, Regionals, State, and World. That’s right! Unlike Glee, we skipped right over Nationals and kicked butt at the World Finals (Thanks Canada!) by coming in 4th place.

Since my mom was out of town, she couldn’t accompany me to New Jersey for the finals, so Ms. Flanagan took me instead. Ms. Flanagan was my Mr. Schuester.  In addition to being our team’s mentor, she made it possible for me to see the world. We rode an airplane together on the outbound leg. And on the return trip, I rode an airplane BY MYSELF! What a thrill. Sure, I was scared but I was feeling so very capable having just placed in a worldwide competition of awesome.

I later discovered that Miss Flanagan went on to become principal and recently retired after 24 years in my elementary school. I’m sure she was the favorite of many.

Last week, in the midst of Holden’s birthday planning and the lead up to Mother’s Day was Teacher Appreciation Week. While it was a lot for me to juggle, I wanted to make sure to give thanks to the teachers in our lives who make such a difference with handwritten notes, cards, and a small gift. We cannot predict which teachers will set us on the unique path to our future.

So, here’s to remembering all those teachers and moments we swore we would never forget!


This jaunt down my hazy memory lane was sponsored by Hallmark, who challenged me to remember because life is a special occasion moments!