My Favorite Teacher

This is a personal post, so come back tomorrow if you’d prefer to hear more of our thoughts on integrated marketing for Healthcare, Professional and Financial Services companies.  Read on if you’d like to hear what I said yesterday at a retirement celebration honoring my favorite teacher. 

Did you ever have a teacher who changed your life?  I did.  Her name was M.A. Haskin.

I was a scrawny 15 year old when I arrived in Dobbs Ferry, with all the requisite hang-ups you have as a teenage girl.  Always insecure…sometimes frightened… and frequently worried over some real or imagined slight.  And while I was the 7th person in my family to attend The Masters School, it certainly didn’t feel like home to me in the beginning.

At the start, I was really only passionate about one thing in school: the theatre.  I loved almost every element, from our basement green room, to the masking tape that marked the stage, to the thrill of slipping into a character.

But I particularly adored my theater teacher. M.A. had a commanding presence, an easy laugh and the very best grin. She also knew how to make a lonely girl feel like she had a friend.  I learned to instantly recognize her handwriting, with the looped letters, from the notes she sent to me on the A-Z Message Board.  I can see her clearly in my mind, sitting on a chair in the dark audience, with her glasses perched on the end of her nose and an eyebrow cocked as she directed our movements.

But, really, she was everywhere I looked.

It was M.A. who gave me my first big part in the “Octette Bridge Club,” but it was also M.A. who reminded me that it was my job (like it or not) to paint the chair for the set.

It was M.A. who helped me achieve an “A” in Public Speaking, and it was M.A. who put a very firm stop to my bickering with my sister over the backstage headsets.

It was M.A. who helped me figure out how to star as a ghost in “Blithe Spirit,” and it was M.A. who trusted me to Stage Manage “Mame.”

It was M.A. who helped me wrangle all the quarrelsome little orphans for their big number in “Annie,” and it was M.A. who cheered loudest when I elected President of Phoenix, the drama club.

It was M.A. who sat down with me when my Math grade was crashing during my senior year, and it was M.A. who awarded me the drama prize when I graduated.

When I look back at Dobbs, it was almost always M.A.

Fast forward to me today.  I’m 45, with my own 40 person marketing firm in New York City and a teenage son who will apply to Masters next year.  I often give speeches for work, and I have media trained hundreds of executives to speak on TV or with reporters.  That wouldn’t have been possible without M.A.’s training.  She was a simply wonderful teacher.

But I will always remember M.A. much, much more for the countless moments, by word or by deed, when she showed me how to become a friend worth having.  I’m so grateful to you, M.A.

Did you ever have a friend who changed your life? I did.  Her name is M.A. Haskin.

Photo courtesy of net_efekt on Flickr

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