I would like to salute a few people from my formative years - teachers that left their mark.  Some were instrumental in helping me fully know my strengths and my weaknesses.  Others allowed me to just be myself, which was the best gift of all and a form of internal freedom as I learned both book and non-book things.

When my kindergarten year started I was barely 5 years old by only two weeks. I could fully read, which meant I could read anything the teacher wrote on my report card or any notes Mrs. Holloway sent home to my parents.  One of those notations on my report card in the first 9 weeks of school said, "Nancy is very bossy."  I can still see her handwriting on the comment section of my report card.  Truth be told, I probably was. Ah well, take out probably.  I was.  If I saw it should be a certain way I organized the group that way or just told people to do it this way or that way.  I salute Mrs. Holloway for seeing a trait in me that I both used to conquer situations when needed and a trait I've had to tone down at times:(  She was far to precise for my style though and too rule oriented. Coloring always inside the lines just wasn't that fun for me!  Still isn't.

Second grade brought the best year of my elementary years.  Mrs. Cripe was young and creative and she let me explore.  I came to understand that I flourished in environments where there was great creativity and freedom to grow in all directions.  She gave me permission to color a bit outside the lines if it was productive.  I salute Mrs. Cripe for fostering my love of exploration and believing there are lots of ways to get to the same end. 

High school brought Mr. Walter, my freshman algebra and geometry teacher.  Both subjects I hated with a deep passion.  I have a hard time focusing on things I really have no interest in.  I also likewise have a hard time being present when I cannot connect to its presentation or I already know the information.  In this case it wasn't the latter:)  I got questionable conduct marks in Mr. Walter's class for talking and not listening when I should have been.  I salute Mr. Walter for clearly understanding my area of giftedness lay outside of his class.  I salute him too for not scolding me as much as I probably deserved because he saw other things in my personality that were just as important as understanding algebra. 

Mr. Prenkert and Mrs. Biltz fostered in me my love of words, English and expression.  I salute both of them for encouraging me and being the type of teachers that used a college style of teaching - independence and personal accountability.  Those widened boundaries suited me well. 

Sitting outside at a table in the spring of my senior year with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Swiggart the psychology teacher, I shared for the first time out loud to an adult what I really wanted to do with my life - write.  It was his conversational way, asking questions, and encouragement that made me feel like maybe it was a possibility and not just an illogical and impractical way to make a living.  He took that little flame I had inside and gave it value.  I salute him deeply for that. 

Mrs. Coffin, the high school music teacher and her husband, Mr. Coffin, the economics teachers had styles that abided well with my personality.  Mrs. Coffin gave me the opportunity to explore piano in accompanying the choirs for all four years.  I loved that place behind the piano and the wide and varied array of music I got to play. I got to get lost in music which is one of my loves.  Mr. Coffin was sarcastic, arrogant and loved to engage.  I operate big time in bantering and his ability was not lost on me.  I salute both of them.

To Mr. Weaver, the computer programming teacher, I salute for his humor and patience with my ignorance and struggle to understand something I was not gifted in.  It was 1983 and there were only 4-6 huge monster (DOS only) computers.  It was a computer programming class (there were no word processing programs - no Microsoft Office!).  We were writing programs to get the computer to do something... what in the hell that was I never figured out!!  I tried my damnedest but my brain doesn't work like that.  I got the only D of my life in that class.  Mr. Weaver found great humor in my trying and trying and trying and trying and hitting the brain wall.  He knew I didn't have those cells to compute:)  Though I deserved an F, he passed me for my tenacity to try to operate out of my Nancy zone.  I salute you Mr. Weaver for understanding and putting a humorous spin on my lack.

Mr. Riley, the government teacher, I salute but in a different way.  I thank him for wearing boxer shorts which humored me in class whenever he wore light colored pants.  I can find humor most anywhere.  That boxer short line gave me plenty of giggles daily!   I salute him for making me defend my faith out loud numerous times in class as he poked fun at my faith in Christ.  The only time he tolerated me was when I went out on a date with his son.  I salute you Mr. Riley for helping me come to find out that some think Christians are weak and that faith in God is silly.  Mostly I salute you for helping me grapple with why I believed what I did and making me not ashamed of God's presence and prominence in my life.

And lastly, to Mr. Lehman the high school assistant principal, I salute you and stand at attention for your spirit of grace.  During my senior year I had a parking lot incident with several friends while goofing around during school hours.  We were hauled into his office.  He could have nailed us to the wall.  Instead, he saw three girls who were basically good kids but full of energy and nixxieness.  He said he didn't really know what to do with us. I truly believe he didn't!  So, he decided we just needed to leave the building at that moment and everyday unless we were in class:)  I salute him for knowing we were just giggly girls having fun (ok too much) and that graduation was too near to make it bigger than it really was. I salute him for grace.  I wish my dad would have had some over that particular incident as well!

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