Thanking Life’s Educators

Happy Happy Friday!

And just like that, the month of April has essentially ended! We hope it was as successful for our readers as it was for us. Your local Chamber had a wonderful morning networking mixer, this writer personally had some early morning Crossfit sessions, and one of our staff members took a much needed vacation.

This Sunday, the month of May begins, and it is truly a month of celebrating special people. With Mother’s Day coming up on May 8 we have gathered exclusive deals from Chamber members, for Chamber members, and have even sent out a special e-blast to advertise these “Hot Deals.” Be sure to check your email for more information, or check out the website here.

15 Teacher Eddy Honorees
Our 2015 Teacher Eddy honorees.

Moms aren’t the only influential person in our lives—we are also molded by our teachers. Our annual Teacher Eddy Awards are seen as an Oscar Night for local schools and teachers within the LAX Coastal community. During this event we honor the amazing men and women who shape the leaders of tomorrow, and if you would like to join us in expressing our thanks, tickets and sponsorships are still available. With education on our minds, your LAX Coastal staff has been thinking about our time in school and the great teacher’s we’ve had in our lives. I’m sure all of us have a few stories to tell, but here are ours:


Chamberlain Made Friends

School was definitely memorable, although as I look back on it right now since you so kindly put me on the spot (laughs) it’s hard to remember something specific. Getting a D- and having to go to summer school, that was definitely memorable, but not necessarily positive. I guess I would have to say it was the social aspect to school that really made the most impact for me. I might not remember my report card, but I definitely remember the friends I made and the people I met. I think it’s right around middle school that you really start interacting with other children, and being introduced to so many different types of people from different backgrounds and cultures is a great learning experience for becoming a professional. The daily social interactions you had in school really help to prepare you for life, especially with a job like mine where I am dealing with community members, business professionals, and government officials on a daily basis. That’s my takeaway.


Sandra and friends at Ithaca College.

Sandra Loves Her Professors

I consider myself one of the lucky students that had a relatively amazing experience with my teachers. I use the word “relatively” because there was one particular professor in college (who shall remain nameless) that I got into an argument with because he didn’t believe spoken word poetry was actual poetry (are you kidding me?!). But, in the grand scheme of my education, I was fortunate to have some truly influential people in my life. College stands out particularly because professors from my alma mater became mentors and friends. It’s difficult for me to pick just one memory when there are so many—there are so many that stand out: literally every class and conversation I ever had with Dr. Ioandie, my immigration seminar with Dr. Eric Pido as a freshman, going to the Hip Hop Archive at Cornell with Dr. Bradwell, Dr. Taylor pushing me in Poetics, and Dr. Barlas’ calling me out on not talking in class (sounds weird but I’m grateful for that).

Those are the easy ones to remember, but, if we are getting more specific, I’d pick my Humorous Writing class with Professor Nick Kowalczyk. I don’t think people realized how great of a professor he was; he was so dedicated to each one of his students. He’d be the professor who was up all night just to give each student a good amount of personal feedback on their writing. I was a bit wary about that class in the first place—because I don’t consider myself funny at all—but Nick made me see the different sides of humor. For example, he made me read Kafka’s Metamorphosis under the perspective of humor. He helped me write about an embarrassing moment, which, no, I won’t repeat here because it’s embarrassing for a reason. All of my other professors had a reputation for being life changing but Nick was a pleasant surprise. I’m truly happy he’s tenured at IC because he deserves it. Like that lady who held my hand in the airplane when there was far too much turbulence, sometimes the universe puts people in your path you didn’t know you needed.  Being extremely nostalgic right now, I’m going to send him a quick thank you note.


Christina Does Public Speaking

I grew up in the Westchester community, as many of you know, so I would have to say that one of my fondest moments came right out of our very own Westchester High School. It may come as a surprise, but I really don’t enjoy public speaking. In high school I had to take an elective, and one of the few classes that was still open was Speech and Public Speaking with Mrs. Rogers. Mrs. Rogers never made me feel less than. Being a drama teacher, she encouraged a positive and fun atmosphere in her classroom by using ice breakers and encouraging students to learn the art of public speaking by writing speeches on things we were genuinely passionate about. I even wrote one on palm reading, and it was one of the first times I had to speak in front of a group of people. My fellow classmates enjoyed it since many of them didn’t know about the topic and it made me feel good. I’d say it was definitely a memorable moment because it is one of the very first times in my life that I felt empowered by my own words.


geology shirt

Kirby Says Geology Rocks

As you can believe, I was—or is that am?—the quintessential teacher’s pet. I loved sitting in the front row, making friends with my teachers, and answering questions (albeit a little too much, since I was also often told to raise my hand before answering and you know sometimes other children want to answer the question too…). Ironically, my memory is absolutely atrocious, so when it comes time to actually sit down and recall all of the wonderful times I had with my teachers throughout the year, I am drawing a blank. I even called my Mom to see if she could remember any great stories and her response was, “You’re talking to the reason why you have a bad memory. This was a bad plan.”

But I can tell you about some of my favorite school stories, such as complaining to my Kindergarten teacher that how come my sister comes home with homework and I don’t, can I please have some homework, and her being sweet enough to make packets just for me to take home over the weekend. Or playing Gus-Gus in the school play about Cinderella and falling in love with my mouse tail so much that I wore it to school for 3 months believing that everyone would assume I grew it overnight. Or all of the wonderful times I spent with my art teachers throughout the years, learning new skills and mediums and getting professional training from a very young age to help me become the artist I am still, to this day, trying to be. Or English classes in the basement with a great teacher and fellow crazy cat lady who let me write an essay about the theme of necrophilia in Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Or another English professor who let me go to musicals and plays for extra credit and, since I had already read all of his assigned works, let me read whatever books I wanted for his class and opened my eyes to such amazing novels as “The Crimson Petal and the White” and “Yes We Have No.” Or my great PE teacher who let me take weight training instead of the typical PE class because I was already heavily involved in sports. Or being able to spend the day in Dorothea Dix cosplay for History… wait, I obviously remember much more than I thought I did. Hang on, let me see if I can pick out something specific.


Yes, Geology at Pasadena City College with Bryan friggin-fantastic Wilbur. I did have to do a little investigative google searching to find his name, because I forgot it and apparently never wrote it on any of my notes or assignments for his class (yes, I still have all of my notes and assignments from his class. For all of my classes, actually.), and for a moment I thought maybe he was David Douglass, but no. Bryan. Wilbur.

You sir, you rock. (Hah, get it?)

Devil’s Postpile

I have always known that I love learning and expanding my knowledge of random bits of information, but I never knew that I would love Geology so much until Wilbur’s class. From earth elements to mineral properties, from Moh’s Hardness Scale (I still remember that talc is 1, fingernails are 2.5, and diamonds are 10, but since we were a school and would be stupid to have diamonds in class our highest ranking mineral was corundum, which had a slightly rusty red and black hue to it, so that when you scratched a surface it left a dark red trail) to earthquakes, I learned so many things that fascinated me to this day that every time I go on vacation I instantly regret not packing my notes to help explain all of the amazing things I see around the world. It didn’t hurt that I had a 100% in his class (until we reached the final…), and that he inspired me to give up art and take up geology instead (although, obviously, I didn’t do that), or that we bonded daily through geology puns (isn’t that gneiss?) and our love of Lovecraft (not a pun, but still good wordplay). The time he chided me for having “At the Mountains of Madness” on my desk during a final because, since Lovecraft referenced geology throughout this novella, it could technically be considered cheating (although the first time he saw the book set at a perfect right angle in the upper left corner of my desk he stopped his lecture to pull out his hardcover copy of the same story from his bag and our friendship was then set for life). How every time I look at my earthquake kit in my house I am grateful that he built it into the curriculum so that he could make sure that each and every one of his students was a little bit safer here in earthquake country (and how a geologist—what was his name?—predicted that large earthquakes happen in California roughly every 150 years because he looked at the spaces between levels of fallen trees in the ground). And that, because of him, when I went to Devil’s Postpile in Mammoth I was able to explain to my family that those rocks were a prime example of columnar basalt, and did you know that California mountains are primarily granite (or was it quartz? Oh crap, I need my notes…), and you see how this mineral is almost perfectly flat and shiny well when a mineral has high cleavage it tends to break along a flat plane… Bryan Wilbur, it is because of you that I know Sulphur is bright yellow and smells awful, and if I need to know if the mineral in front of me is Halite just pop it into my mouth because it is salty, and you know what sometimes schist happens, but the going gets tuff you should just get going and never take anything for granite. Here’s to you, sir. Thank you.

P.S. Kirby is always around for more Geology puns if you would like to join her at the LAX Coastal Chamber, Monday through Friday, 10am to 7pm. Door is open. Come and learn what the Christmas Tree rock is.


We hope this blog inspires you to take a little time from your day and thank the educators in your life, no matter what form they take. And, of course, feel free to share your stories with us!

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