Today, thank a teacher

Elizabeth Driver with her granddaughter, Jilliian
Elizabeth Driver with her granddaughter, Jilliian

I was a skinny, smart-aleck sixteen-year-old when I first walked in to Elizabeth Driver’s junior English classroom. I was pretty sure I knew all I needed to know about all there was to know. I’m not sure how she held herself back from strangling me where I stood.

This weekend, Mrs. Driver (no matter how many times she says I can call her Liz, I just can’t call her Liz) put her Lake Highlands home up for sale. She’s moving to Rogers, Arkansas to be nearer her daughter, Julie, and her adorable granddaughter, Jillian.

Mrs. Driver taught for many years in the Garland ISD, leaving behind a long line of grateful students and faithful friends. Thru the magic of Facebook, I’ve seen a parade of well-wishers bid her a fond farewell, including some who’ve arranged to take her to dinner (or come over to make it), help clean out her home or help prepare for the sale. She’s also had visits from lots of my former classmates, including two who now live in California (one works for Warner Bros., one for Universal Studios). Clearly, Mrs. Driver is much-beloved.

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Thinking about Mrs. Driver has me pondering what makes a life-changing teacher. Is it the sum of the knowledge they pour into us, or the motivation they spark in us to go learn things ourselves? It’s the magic of the way they present things, certainly, but it’s also the impression we get that they desperately want us to catch their love of the subject matter the way we might catch their cold. As if their love of learning is contagious, and they’re dying to get close enough to infect us with their fever.

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Lake Highlands has many truly special teachers, and I’ve written about several over the years.

At a recent luncheon honoring the top ten graduates at each of RISD’s high schools, students had the chance to invite one teacher who was most important to their academic success. Many of the LHHS invitees are repeat attendees, but they say that receiving that call is one of the highlights of their year.

Congratulations to these students, but also to these teachers, who’ve made a powerful, life-long impact in the lives of Lake Highlands students. And thank you, too, to the many more who aren’t named here.

1- Kim Swarm invited by Nathan Bucki, 2 – Jeff Bradford by Jack Stewart, 3 – Scott Tiffany by Paul Holden, 4 – Frank Gidwani by Elisabeth Wall, 5 – Bob Williams by Andy Faris, 6 – David Wood by Austin Curnutt, 7 – Ken Taylor by Dallas Crotty, 8 – Tracey Bishkin by Blake Lueder, 9 – Hunter Wood by Isabel Pask and 10 – Terry Berrier by Siobhan Kelley.

And take no offense if a student doesn’t express his gratitude today. After all, it’s taken me this long to thank Mrs. Driver.

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