Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tribute to a Teacher

Is there a teacher in your life who influenced you? Have you told them thank you? I was lucky enough to have wonderful English teachers, but I did thank the two that meant the most to me, Larry Zimmer and Adele Ashe.

Unfortunately, at my age, I'm losing too many people that were important to me. And, Adele Ashe died a couple days ago, at the age of 81. She'll be missed by her family, friends, and a number of former students. I know my sisters and I share memories of her classes.

Adele Ashe was one of our English teachers at St. Peter's Catholic School in Huron, Ohio. I'm a reader, so I appreciated the books she had us read. But, she had the biggest impact on all three of us when she introduced us to poetry. In Mrs. Ashe's classes, we read poetry, analyzed it, and, most important, memorized it, and recited it. It's a special memory I share with my sisters, because to this day, we can all three recite parts of Stephen Vincent Benet's poem, "Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright". And, then there was Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, "Ozymandias".

Do teachers today still require students to memorize poems, and recite them in front of the entire class? Do students still read Shelley and Benet in elementary school? Probably not, but Adele Ashe was an exceptional teacher, who taught us to appreciate poetry, the words, the rhythm.

I was able to thank Adele Ashe. And, I was fortunate enough to get to know her as an adult, when I was Library Director at the Huron Public Library, and she was a patron. Exceptional teachers are treasures in the life of students. They are always missed.

For my sisters, Linda and Christie -

Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright

Said Orville Wright to Wilbur Wright,
"These birds are very trying,
I'm sick of hearing them cheep-cheep
About the fun of flying.
A bird has feathers, it is true.
That much I freely grant.
But must that stop us, W?"
Said Wilbur Wright, "It shan't."

And so they built a glider, first,
And then they built another.
—There never were two brothers more
Devoted to each other.
They ran a dusty little shop
For bicycle-repairing,
And bought each other soda-pop
And praised each other's daring.

They glided here, they glided there,
They sometimes skinned their noses.
—For learning how to rule the air
Was not a bed of roses
—But each would murmur, afterward,
While patching up his bro.
"Are we discouraged, W?"
"Of course we are not, O!"

And finally, at Kitty Hawk
In Nineteen-Three (let's cheer it!),
The first real airplane really flew
With Orville there to steer it!
—And kingdoms may forget their kings
And dogs forget their bites,
But not till Man forgets his wings
Will men forget the Wrights.

Stephen Vincent Benet

Thank you, Mrs. Ashe.


Anonymous said...

Another beautiful tribute to a person who had an influence on your life. I can still hear you and your sisters reciting the poem when you got together later on in your lives. I do agree she was a wonderful teacher for all 3 of my daughters.

Anonymous said...

My father used to say that one of the hardest things about growing old is that you have to say goodbye to so many friends.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Mom. We may have some of the lines wrong, but together we could still do most of the poem. Yes, she was definitely an influence on my life.

Lesa said...

Joe, I think your father was right. It seems as if I know the people, or family members, of almost everyone who has died lately in my hometown. And, that doesn't even include my own family members, who don't live there. It isn't always easy.

Jim said...


Mrs. Ashe was a very special teacher. I'm glad you found her & she influenced your life. Unfortunately, I'm afraid to say, that most kids or young adults today wouldn't know who Stephen Vincent Benet or Percy Bysshe Shelley were. So very sad.

Love jim

Lesa said...

And, look how much they're missing, Jim, by not knowing Benet or Shelley.

Kelly said...

Mrs. Ash was a wonderful person from what everyone has said but she touched my life through her son, Ed. A tru pateriot and a hero.


Lesa said...

Thank you for the note about Ed, Kelly. That's wonderful that you know him that way.