Teachers, mentors and other important people in life

Jan Hodge posed in the study of his home in this 2008 Sioux City Journal Photo

In many parts of the country, the school year is still just beginning.

With that in mind, I sought inspiration from fellow blogger Carol A. Seidl. She recently started following Brome Hill and I like the nice post she wrote last month about the college professor who had the biggest influence on her. As I set out to borrow her idea, I realized I essentially had written the same type of post about Jan Hodge in 2014.

So I stopped writing, went to bed and slept on it. I awoke thinking about the many mentors who have influenced me — often in even greater ways than teachers I’ve had. And I don’t want to diminish the importance of teachers. More on that in a bit.

In college, those mentors, in no particular order, included:

John Bentzinger in 2016
  • Terri Curry, who played a role in my joining the housing staff at Morningside College. Being a resident assistant and then a head resident in one of the dorms provided great early training on how to deal with sometimes difficult people in difficult circumstances.
  • Gene Ambroson and Mark Gambaiana, who both worked at the time in Morningside’s marketing department and went on to bigger roles in alumni relations and development at Morningside and elsewhere.
  • Kenny Graham, who was the director of campus security.
  • John Bentzinger, who was the news director who gave me my first reporting job at a radio station in Sioux City, Iowa. I probably learned more from John about reporting and news writing than anyone else I’ve ever known.

In the years since college, I’ve had many mentors, including: Phil Chinitz, George Althoff and Jan Nierling, Rusty Cunningham, Judy Krieger, Mike Augspurger, Ken Rogers, John Peterson, Jack Case, Joe Starita and Lynn Allison. All of them played important roles in my newspaper career.

Since leaving the news business in 2012, I’ve been influenced by many people as well. Those who immediately come to mind include Gary Rowe and Dan Schoepf. I’d also include my wife and her family on this list.

I’m forgetting many others, but I want to finish by saying a few words about teachers. English teachers in particular.

Kathy Froyen

Wednesday night, I shared this screen capture on my Facebook page. Kathy Froyen was my eighth-grade English teacher. As I said on Facebook, I’m not sure what I like most about it: 1. That it was shared by one of my English teachers from junior high.2. The fact I had English teachers who taught us how to correctly use your and you’re.

I didn’t really learn how to write until I was out of college and writing every day. I was fortunate, however, to have studied under some very good English teachers in junior high and high school — most of whom told me I would grow up to be a writer. In addition to Froyen, they included: Mrs. Kent, Mrs. Carman, Mrs. Eckles, Mrs. Vaughn, Mrs. Yocom and Mrs. Krutsinger.

I’m not sure whatever happened to some of them and at least a couple of them have passed away. But I’m fortunate to have known all of them. All I have to do is read my social media feeds every day and see the overwhelming number of poorly written and grammatically incorrect memes to realize how lucky I was to have encountered this group of teachers.

3 thoughts on “Teachers, mentors and other important people in life

  • As a retired teacher and grammar critic, I enjoyed the meme. I have a particular thing about split infinitives that dates back to the early ’60’s. I had opted out of taking yet another French class at Mizzou (first C and first D in my entire school career came in French) and that would not let me be able to hold claim on getting a BA at the university. I had to talk to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to get back in their good graces. As I was sitting in the waiting room before being admitted to the office (things were pretty formal in the early ’60’s) I heard the dean and another person talking about a letter that had been received by a student–who had split an infinitive!! Scared me half to death! That is something that had a much bigger impression on me than French ever did! So…..I try never to split an infinitive and am also very careful about its and it’s.

  • Thanks for the shout out. Coincidently, I chuckled this morning when a friend of mine posted your teacher’s meme (your vs. you’re) on her FB page. Grammatical humor at it’s, I mean its, best.

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