Among those teachers who have dramatically affected me personally and professionally is my former supervising teacher, Mrs. Andrea Loss.
Mrs. Loss took me under her wing when I was a fledgling student teacher at Milwaukee’s Washington High School. The school has many great students and teachers, but as anyone who has taught or visited there will tell you, WHS is not an easy place for any teacher to be considered highly effective, let alone a new teacher. However, Mrs. Loss somehow made it look easy and helped to give me to confidence to not only endure my student teaching experience–as some are forced to–but love every minute of it.
Mrs. Loss is among the most caring and compassionate teachers I have ever met. She has an incredible ability to view all students as lovable children, which, as most teachers working in similar conditions will tell you, is not always easy. Somehow, through the chaos that plagues almost any urban school–issues of absenteeism, violence, crime, substance abuse–Mrs. Loss instilled in me the faith that ALL students–no matter their occasional harshness–are good, and that kindness and compassion is exactly what is needed to succeed in such an environment.
The classroom culture she creates is one that I have tried to mimic in my own classroom. It is a culture that any teacher should envy. It is a place where students want to be before and after school and during periods that are not even theirs. Her ability to get students, many of whom have major trust issues, to trust her is what makes her so successful–because ultimately, you can’t teach English if you can’t teach children.
Aside from Mrs. Loss’s teaching abilities, her ability to support me as a young teacher was instrumental to my current success. She gradually released me to have more control of the classes as the semester went on, while constantly giving me advice and tips to improve my teaching.
Most importantly, though, Mrs. Loss showed the same care and compassion to me as she shows to her students. She helped me through my final semester in college, helped me find housing for an additional month of student teaching, gave me advice about life, love, and whatever I needed. Not only was she there for me to help me become a competent young teacher, but she helped prepare for the quick transition between the blissful world of college and adulthood.
Today, Mrs. Loss and I still communicate. For that I am grateful, because not only was she a terrific mentor teacher, but she is now someone I consider a dear friend. She’d be proud to know that, on a daily basis, I call many of my students by some of the same terms of endearment by which she also addresses her students. The relationships I have been able to form with students that many teachers do not even wish teach are those that, using Mrs. Loss’s modeling, have made an incredible difference in the lives of my students and in mine as well.
So then, it is on behalf of my students, my family, and of course, myself, that I offer a sincere thank you to Mrs. Andrea Loss, a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend.
Nick McDaniels teaches High School English in Baltimore, MD where he serves as a union building representative and member of Baltimore City Teachers for the Environment. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, Amie, his daughter, Charlie, his dog, Jackson, and his four chickens. He graduated from Marquette in 2009 with majors in English and Secondary Education, and a minor in Environmental Ethics. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision at Johns Hopkins University.