Being remembered by former students a treat


June 26, 2012

Last week, I mentioned I had been a graduate assistant at New Mexico State University in 1963. At the same time, I taught a class in American history at Madonna High School, a Catholic girls school in Mesilla Park.

That short chapter in my life was very active, but one that stands out because of the collection of memories amassed in such a brief period. An assistant's salary was barely enough to pay the rent and buy a bean or two', thus when I was offered that teaching position for an extra $30 a month, I jumped at the chance and learned far more from those students than they learned from me.

Last week, one of those students called, identified herself as Trish Sullivan Anderson, and asked if I remembered her. I was stunned to hear her voice and quickly advised her that she was one of those unforgettable students. Although I had thought of her often through all the years, I hadn't heard from her after her graduation in 1964. She said that she and her husband were going to Santa Fe from their home in Nebraska to join other Madonna High students for a reunion and asked if they could visit this aging teacher.

We agreed to meet at the dining room at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas last Saturday at noon. In the meantime, I found the yearbook from that time and began to recall many experiences I had during those hours of teaching history to a group of lively girls. I was picturing Trish from that year and was trying to see how she might look 48 years later. I am fairly sure she was doing much the same thing. Would we know each other when we met?

I arrived a little early in order to relax for a few minutes and watch the people in the lobby. As 12:00 p.m. approached, I became a bit tense while anticipating our meeting. Shortly thereafter, a couple walked into the lobby and stood for a moment. The man pointed at me as if to ask my identity. At the same time Trish and I recognized each other and fell into each other's arms. That was one emotional moment for this teacher.

During lunch, Trish explained that she had earned a Ph.D. in psychology and had worked at Father Flannigan's Boys Town for a number of years. As I listened to such an impressive story of her life, I was recalling what a delightful student she had been and what a mischievous one as well. She also recalled some of those incidents and caused us to enjoy some good laughs. I was wondering what her husband was thinking, but he was kind enough to let us talk without many interruptions.

As teachers, we never know what kind of effect we have had on our students, but we are always delighted just to be remembered by some of them. Of course, we are even more delighted to learn about their lives and to think we had known them for a brief time in their youth. Trish has promised to stay in touch and to send me some of her publications. I just hope she realizes how very proud of her I am and how much I appreciate her taking time to visit during her vacation. What a treat!

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 461-1952.


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