Pam’s radio goes off at 6 am every morning, and we lay in bed listening to WBCL, one of the local Christian radio stations. Today, the morning DJs invited people to call in and tell about their favorite teacher, or a teacher who had been meaningful to them. Something like that. I was only half awake.
But it got me thinking about teachers I’ve had. There was Mrs. Yeager, 4th grade, who let me write funny stories and read them to the class; I credit her with creating my interest in writing (which blossomed into a career). Mrs. Runo and Mrs. Harbour, in high school, further fueled that interest by letting me do an independent study; I went to the library for one period during the day, wrote stories, and submitted the stories to them for critiquing when they were finished. That was important.
But the best teacher I ever had was in Sunday school, 6th grade, in Harrisburg, Pa. Dick Zimmerman. He designed a big posterboard type thing with a huge grid, like a spreadsheet. There was a line for each kid in the class, and little boxes where he would put stars for such things as attendance, bringing your Bible, bringing friends, and for memorizing a host of different Scripture verses and passages. That doesn’t sound anything special, does it?
But here’s the thing: it was all in CODE. Our names, the verses, everything. And he gave each of us a “code book” to decipher what was on the chart. It was SO cool. Other people, adults, could walk into the class and look at this big board, admire it all they want, but they wouldn’t understand it. Only us kids, with our code books, had the answers.
I memorized everything he offered in that book and filled my line up with numerous stars. It motivated me like crazy. I’m sure many of the verses which remain fresh in my mind were first memorized in Mr. Zimmerman’s class. But another lasting legacy of Mr. Zimmerman is his example–a guy who expended a great deal of creativity and time into motivating a bunch of 6th graders. When it comes to teaching Sunday school, Dick Zimmerman is my gold standard. Always has been.
Years later–in fact, my first year out of college–I was asked to teach a group of 4th to 6th graders on Wednesday nights. I duplicated the whole thing–the board, the code books. The kids seemed to enjoy it. But not as much as I did with Mr. Zimmerman.Leave a comment