My picture today is of a different stack of books: every single one of my Norton anthologies from college.
Like silent sentinels, they have been in my classroom every single year.
In Michigan, teachers are required to have a Bachelor’s and minor in order to be certified in a subject. So, these anthologies represent my English degree and the awesome professors I had.
One memory is of British Literature – I was a freshman and just received my first B on a paper in college. I went to Professor William’s office, and she guided me on how to improve it. After that, my essays always received As.
I also remember Professor Messer (who was the first to acknowledge the unfortunate rhyme) for World Lit–one of my favorite classes in college. I will never forget that he spent the first day of class memorizing our names and learning one thing about each of us. It set the tone for the rest of the course; that he genuinely cared about who the individuals were sitting in his class…. And so we cared about being there. His class discussions were always rich and interesting, because he invited us by name to be a part of it.
I literally waited until the final semester of college to take Shakespeare because I was so intimidated by it. I truly believed that I would struggle with it and not understand anything. I was so wrong! Professor Engbers made the plays accessible and interesting. I remember that after reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I showed him how I had analyzed a unique organizational pattern I saw and tracked it through the play. He asked me to share my insights with the rest of the class–and they were writing it down in their notes! (It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this spring will be my fourth time teaching AMND!)
There are so many amazing professors in the English department at Calvin and I could go on and on about what I’ve learned from them–including VanderLei, Saupe, VandenBosch, VandeKopple. (And that’s just one department!) I am grateful to have their influences represented by these anthologies.