But it wasn’t until June 2018 in Mill Valley California, that I discovered something much deeper about my green jacket. Katya Shrayber, a student from Leningrad School Nº 185, who emigrated to America, told her story about me in the school, a story I never suspected. She recounted:
“Every day you came to our school in Green Jacket with brown patches on the elbows. It was like a symbol of a free world. All the other teachers wore boring gray and blue clothing. I wrote in my diary, which I found recently: ‘Today we had an American teacher, Frank Thoms, come to our school, who is wearing a green jacket. He’s completely different from our other teachers. He looks like a movie star. And he brought food into the classroom, which no other teacher did. Sometimes, he brought compote and pastry from the cafeteria.”
Do you remember how you saw your teachers? Who stood before you every day for 180 days each year? What did you think? While I was teaching at School 185 I had an inkling of what’s Katya and her friends thought about me. I was the American in their school, the only one. And I was gregarious reaching out to everyone.
But I did not know the extent of their thinking until Katya shared her story. It would be wise for teachers to pay attention to a student or former students who willingly shares his thoughts about you. The tescher would learn a lot, and surprisingly, the student would be be grateful for his listening.
Perhaps you could think to reach out to a former teacher and offer your impressions of her. And to say thank you.