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Thank you teachers, especially Mrs. Synakowski

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Teacher Appreciation Week brings back great memories

By Andrew Harris

Great teachers are hard to forget. I can list off many from Mrs. Metros in second grade to Professor Farouk Mamaghami at St. John Fisher. They all had an impact, but for me one teacher did more than teach, she provided direction.

Connie Synakowski was my 9th grade homeroom and 9th grade English teacher to start my high school career. This was 1992 and I was 14-15 and not sure what high school would have in store. I was glad to be in Mrs. Synakowski’s class, she was a neighbor and a familiar face. I didn’t know that she would “literally,” and dramatically alter my life in ways that I still recognize everyday, 31 years later.

The mysteries of how one teacher can alter the mind of a student may never be unlocked but the phenomenon isn’t rare. Often it is one class, maybe even one lesson, that makes a permanent impresssion. In my case, Mrs. Synakowski introduced me to a genre, a whole universe of thinking best lumped together as “trancendentalism.”

She introduced me to Shakespeare, Robert Frost, several contemporary writers and poets. They were all interesting and seemed like good standard-fare freshman English lessons. But when she brought Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau into my world, everything changed. A door opened and let my mind into vast universe, one that ran paralell to the world I was in. Suddenly I wasn’t just out in the woods walking around, I was taking stock of my surroundings, acknowledging the vastness and beauty and uniqueness of a big hemlock tree that I’d never really noticed before. Maybe more important, I was introduced to a vehicle that gave me license to appreciate my own perspective and experiences. The vehicle was literature but the key was Mrs. Synakowski. She taught that words, poetry, can allow you to expand how much you appreciate life, is that is still important and instructive to me everyday.

I’m not the only one who who had a great teacher, read a few of the comments from our readers about a great teacher:

Susan Cook said:

“I have a couple favorites, Mrs Billings first grade always so motherly and made you feel safe, and Mrs Senikowski 7th grade was always so kind, respectful, non-judgmental and always tried to boost your confidence -and to this day she still speaks to me every time I see her!!”

Maureen O’Connor: “Mrs. Joan Bundy ❤ you made 3rd grade the best!”

Jessica LaFleur Hunt: ” I had a few favs but two that stand out are Sandra Sawyer & Joyce Shick from Friendship❤️

“Andres:” Senor Clark taught Spanish through osmosis. That teaching carries through until today when I still speak a quasi-Espanol, especially internally. The best part is that decades later, we still see each other in the grocery store almost weekly and typically it is the same way he started many classes:

Senor: Que tal?

Me: Asi asi

Do you have a teacher who needs a shoutout ? Visit our Facebook page and chime in on Mrs. Synakowski or Mrs. Billings or Mrs. Bundy or Mrs Sawyer or Mrs Shick!

Thank you teachers for and thank you Mrs. Synakowski!! If I had to summarize the lessons she taught, in a very short period of time, I’d have to quote Emerson. Not long after she introduced me to Ralph Waldo, I printed out and stapled this to the wall of my bedroom:

… A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.

If you know me at all, you know how much impact Mrs. Synakowski, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, had on me.

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