Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.
For thirty-five years, I’ve frequently thought of Mrs. Jacobs, but writing the post about her earlier this year put me in full-on stalker mode. I NEEDED to find her and tell her how much she meant to me.
My cousin’s husband read the post and helpfully sent me a link to find current and past teacher licensees in the state of North Carolina. I immediately went to the site, convinced that would lead me to her. No luck. I shifted my focus back to Facebook, but looking for someone who may or may not live in the state of North Carolina and has the last name of Jacobs was a literal needle in the haystack search.
I remembered other teachers from the two years I spent at Williston Junior High School. Madame Wilson was my beloved French teacher. (We had to pronounce it Ma DAHM Weel SOHN) After four years of high school French, the only thing I remember of the language is the words to France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise. And the only reason I remember that is because Madame Wilson gave us extra credit if we sang it in class. One hundred points extra credit. I didn’t even like speaking out loud in class, let alone singing. But not even my paralyzing shyness could stop me from earning 100 extra credit points. On the last day of school Madame Wilson gave me my French textbook as a gift and told me how much she enjoyed having me as a student. Oh, how I’ve let her down. Je suis vraiment désolé, Madame Wilson.
But again, finding a “Mrs. Wilson”…more haystacks. Too daunting.
I thought about my other Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Mansfield. I was pretty sure her name was Lisa. BOOM! I found her on the licensing website and went to Facebook. I was thrilled when I saw her active profile there. I thought a friend request was a bit aggressive, so six weeks ago, I sent her a message with a link to the blog post and asked if she remembered Mrs. Jacobs and if she knew how I could get in touch with her. I hit send and…nothing happened. I figured this was another roadblock, and several times a week, I’d embark on more searches, only to keep coming up empty handed.
Today, I received a notification that Lisa Mansfield had accepted my messenger request. My eyes grew wide when I saw the notification on my iPhone. I offered up a silent prayer that she would respond to my out of the blue request.
About a half hour later, I got a message from Mrs. Mansfield:
Steve watched me as I read the message and asked why I had such a goofy grin on my face. “I think I finally found Mrs. Jacobs!”
I typed “Eleanor P. Jacobs” in the Facebook search bar, and found this post from Anthony Martin back in 2010.
Anthony got a big thank you message from me, because seeing his post was like finding the final clue to locating the Holy Grail. Fortunately, his privacy restrictions were pretty lax, so I searched his friends for my lost teacher.
My eyes started leaking. Unmistakeably her! Those cheekbones-she looks even more beautiful than I remembered-talk about aging well! I sent her a Facebook message and a link to my original blog post. I hope she appreciates it.
Mrs. Mansfield shared the blog post on her Facebook site as promised, and added me as a friend. Even if I never hear from Mrs. Jacobs, the comments she and her fellow teachers shared confirmed my instinct to thank Mrs. Jacobs for being such a significant influence.
I laughed out loud at the comment, “Classroom management was never her problem!” I love the wisdom that Mrs. Mansfield shared, it tidily sums up my thoughts. And I’m thrilled that I now have two of my former Language Arts teachers as friends on Facebook. Throughout my school years, I was convinced I wanted to be a high school English teacher-because of Mrs. Jacobs, Mrs. Mansfield, and the inimitable Virginia (who always abbreviated her first name with the postal abbreviation for the state) Birks. Language Arts teachers are probably the most sympathetic and encouraging to the shy bookworms of the world, and I’m convinced their support smoothed the rough edges of high school and kept me on the path of a reader’s life.
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.