She was a formidable woman. When I first entered her classroom her presence alone commanded respect. It was expected. She sat down on her desk next to her trusty overhead projector, vis-a-vis pens at the ready. Over the course of two years, we would outline the history of Europe and the United States with detail and efficiency. The note taking lessons were valuable for the rest of our lives, but it was the effusive love of history that engaged us. Her notes were concise but her stories were deep and wide. She made the past come alive with her stories.
More than that…she saw the best in each of us. She saw a girl with low self-esteem, poor study habits, and an elementary education that had not prepared her for the rigors of private school and looked beyond. She took that girl in with love, empathy and taught her how to learn, how to organize, and how to become passionate about her students. She looked beyond the numbers in the grade book and encouraged the individual gifts. She held her students to the highest expectation possible and did not take mediocrity as acceptable. She believed in us. She loved us.
And we loved her back. She inspired a generation of people to work hard and give to others. The girl with low self-esteem and a tumultuous life in middle school grew to be a teacher, hoping dearly to emulate her love and care for students in every way. And she is grateful.
Thank you Mrs. Sobel. You made a difference.