Baby Boomer echoes

by Teresa R. Zaverl

A couple of weeks ago I reminisced about Ms. Delores Wood and I could have said more about her in tribute. <BR><BR>She exemplified her profession and probably shot the mark of that tough job dealing with young minds, seeking out potential thinkers, doing her best to expose us to the world beyond Ely.<BR><BR>While most Ely Boomers remember Ms. Wood we can’t forget the rest of the teaching staff.<BR><BR>Most of us grew up under the tutelage of teachers who taught our folks or older siblings.<BR><BR>We probably started kindergarten with Ms. Call or Ms. Merril - if you attended the Ely Elementary School. <BR><BR>They were our substitute moms for at least a couple hours a day and exposed us to becoming social creatures away from home ties and mom’s apron strings.<BR><BR>Where else did most of us experience someone who could play piano and sing songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider?” <BR><BR>Not that our moms at home weren’t talented and caring, but teachers were different. <BR><BR>They weren’t under the pressure of family duties; they spent their time socializing us, focussing us on our life ahead.<BR><BR>Most of the women teaching back in Boomer days were single. They had a career carved out, and though they weren’t moms, they must have liked kids and wanted to instill or plant a seed of knowledge - knowing that seed could take you anywhere.<BR><BR>Boomers grew up during the space age, new math, war and a lot of political turmoil. <BR><BR>Teachers were kind of an anchor or a safe harbor, prodding us to learn new things, to study and possibly change the world into a different and better place.<BR><BR>Ely High School reminds us of some of those teachers who are now mostly departed or retired, who did their daily duty. I guess most of them did it for at least 30 years, and if one looks back they did impact our lives.<BR><BR>How could we forget our first experiences in the field of science? We had guys like Howard Anderson, John Ackerman, Lauren Leino, Fred McReady, George Banovitz, and not to forget ladies like Ms. McLeod and Ms. Tornquist.<BR><BR>Science teachers exposed us to the elements, the earth’s rotations and planetary alignment. We absorbed the latest on genetics (remember the genetic code and the DNA helix?) <BR><BR>We received dissecting kits and explored the innards of night crawlers, frogs and some little perch. <BR><BR>We learned the ins and outs of operating a microscope, prepared our own slides and even found out by puncture what blood type we were.<BR><BR>Labs were plentiful in chemistry or physics, and I guess a lot of concoctions like mothballs and small explosives came out of the place, not to mention the motion experiments.<BR><BR>Botany and zoology reigned, and our school had a great green house right off the biology classroom. There used to be some prize plants tended in there under the care of Mr. Leino. <BR><BR>I see it’s empty now, and makes me a little sad. Growing things should be good learning experiences, but I suppose health laws and pest control take those old memories away.<BR><BR>Science teachers then and now must have tons of patience. Let kids load into a lab and be prepared for the unexpected.<BR><BR>This Boomer remembers a few incidences. <BR><BR>When Boomers filled the school and lab sizes were huge, worry over lighting Bunsen burners and gas jets could take a toll on the teacher involved. There were accidents, some scary to observers, but teachers had it in control.<BR><BR>Without their expertise we could’ve leveled the school or filled a burn unit. <BR><BR>Hats off to your caring observation while we were supposed to be learning what all the elements were about.<BR><BR>This article is continuing next week and maybe more - taking us back to some of the memories of teachers, subjects and the school back in Boomer times.<BR><BR>