To the Editor:
In today's world of teacher-bashing, I want to tell you about a hero. Her name was Mrs. Alice Sorensen and she died on Feb. 2, 2013, at 97. She taught in Ringsted for 27 years. Mrs. Sorensen had no children of her own but treated hundreds of students as if they were her own.
Students willingly diagrammed sentences, recited verb tenses and stood with perfect posture while they stood at her podium delivering their speech assignments. Mrs. Sorensen had a way to make us think these tasks were the most important things we would ever learn. We loved doing them because we loved her. She was a lady with class that we looked up to every day of junior high. High expectations filled her teaching days, and her students did everything in their power to achieve them.
I was sitting in her seventh-grade language arts class when she had to announce to her students that President Kennedy had just been assassinated. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to explain to innocent rural children how senseless this act was. We waited quietly at our desks and did not continue with the day's lessons. Instead, Mrs. Sorenson told us stories about how great this country is and the respect that should be shown to its elected officials. She explained how lucky we are to be able to elect our president. I can remember the day clearly because of how Mrs. Sorensen handled the chaos we were feeling.
Mrs. Sorensen developed the whole child. She taught us good character and how to be a good person. It sounds so simplistic but it is a difficult task and takes time. In today's world of education, the teaching of academic skills and raising test scores is the No. 1 objective. What is left out of the school day because of the pressure being felt? The Mrs. Sorensen moments - the moments that were once used to teach character, compassion and how to live a good life. I understand that the world is a different place from the 1960s. But, does the world still need people of good character? Are we not hungry for a world that shows compassion to one another? At certain times, the teachable moment is more important than a math or reading concept.
I loved my hero and became a teacher because of her example. Mrs. Sorensen probably has a crowd in heaven diagramming sentences as I compose this. And, they are loving it. Can one life make a difference? Mrs. Sorensen is proof that one can, time after time.
Ringsted High School
Class of 1969