The best teacher you ever had

Word reached me through the usual channels last week that the first journalism teacher I ever had — Anne Masse — passed away.

Until it did, I didn’t know that much about her, really, other than she was the one who encouraged me that this journalism thing could work out.

In 1971, she sent me off to the Massachusetts Press Association Boston University Scholarship Competition. The winner got a full four-year scholarship to Boston University. The competition had two parts: an essay and a list of newsmakers to be identified. I won the essay part, but I didn’t get all the newsmakers, even though I knew the answer to all of them. I’d forgotten to bring a pencil.

A four-year free ride. Gone. Mrs. Masse taught me to always carry a pencil.

Until I read her obituary, though, I didn’t know that she was a speechwriter for President Eisenhower. Funny, all the thing we don’t know about the people who make some of the biggest impact in our lives.

When I started the People You Should Meet series, I noticed something important: Most everybody was nominating a teacher. I have another one coming out next week. She’s a teacher, too.

We blame teachers for a lot of the ills of our society, but we still name them when asked about the most interesting people in our lives and the ones who made a difference.

That’s why this week’s SoulPancake video is so compelling.

  • Vince Tuss

    Bill Dunn was a great teacher of mine in high school in Michigan. He got along with everyone, but he got them to care about American history, whether they were high achievers or not happy to be there. That’s no small feat. Sometimes it meant looking the other way when people checked out for a long bathroom break. But he made the material approachable, didn’t teach the book and best of all made you think about stuff. Still trade e-mails and cards with him now that he’s retired. Thanks, Mr. Dunn. I’d send a dozen of Dun(ki)n’s Donuts your way, but Minnesota doesn’t have any.