This week was Teacher Appreciation Week, so I want to share a story about the teacher who had the biggest impact on my life.
In the first grade, my bus was late on the very first day of school, so I got to class late.
The education of Jody Fuller was not off to a good start.
In the second grade, I played hooky for seven straight days. The nurse called my mother to ask if I was ok, and I was just fine when the nurse called; however, when my mother had to leave work to come home to get me, well, I was no longer fine.
I have three tours in Iraq and I am fine but I still get flashbacks from the beatdown I got that day.
I remember standing in the hallway at Jeter Primary telling Mrs. Floyd how sorry I was for skipping school. We were both crying. It would not be the last time I cried with a teacher.
I was runner-up in the spelling bee in the fifth grade at Pepperell. I misspelled the word goalie. I’ll never forget that. At the time, neither hockey nor soccer was big in Alabama, so I was clueless. My friend Adam was crowned the spelling bee champion by spelling the word goldbrick.
I never really enjoyed school the way I should have. In fact, I always missed the maximum number of days but somehow managed to maintain decent grades up until my sophomore year.
When I tried, I did fairly well. If I remember correctly, I had a 3.2 GPA going into my junior year.
Unfortunately, the older I got, the less I tried. I was more concerned with having fun and doing whatever I could do to make people laugh.
My GPA dropped faster than Manti Te’o’s draft stock after the revelation of his fake girlfriend.
I had Mrs. Mount my sophomore year for biology and again my junior year for anatomy and physiology.
She was such a great teacher. One quarter in biology, I had the second highest grade in the class. It was just one quarter but still…
I had so much respect for her that I still performed satisfactorily in her class my junior year.
During my senior year, I took chemistry.
I never did grasp it and never learned the periodic table of elements. I knew salt and potassium but that was about it.
When final exams came around, I rolled up into class with a number 2 pencil and a pillow. I quickly filled out my Scantron form with the number 2 pencil by spelling out the words A BAD BAD CAB DAD three or four times before turning it in.
I then laid my head down on the aforementioned pillow. The plan was to sleep for the next couple of hours.
At least that was the plan but those plans quickly changed when Mrs. Mount entered the room by happenstance.
In the Army, we call that a FRAGO.
She noticed that all the other students were deeply engaged with their final exams while I was deeply engaged in dreamland.
After a quick chat with my teacher, Mrs. Mount snapped her fingers and instructed me to come with her. She walked me back to her classroom and then into her office in the back of the room. At least, I think it was an office.
She lit into me but did so in a caring and concerned manner. I told her I wasn’t overly concerned with school because I planned on staying with Kroger after high school or getting on at one of the local plants.
All those local plants are now closed. All of them.
She told me how smart I was and that I would be wasting so much potential if I followed through with that lackluster plan.
She encouraged me to go to college and to chase my dreams.
Before it was over, we were both crying like we’d just watched a marathon of Little House on the Prairie.
I’ll never forget that day.
She didn’t have to do that. Technically, she wasn’t one of my teachers that year, but once a teacher, always a teacher.
I attended Opelika City Schools all the way through and was very fortunate to have been taught by so many wonderful and caring teachers. Dr. Hannah, Mrs. Davis, and Mrs. Leonard are three that immediately come to mind but there can only be one favorite and that was Mrs. Mount. More importantly, she was the most influential.
I did graduate college and I continue to chase my dreams.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, I guess I’ll have to change that online security question.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the educators out there.
Thank you for what you have done and for what you will continue to do. You are making a difference each and every day.
Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.