It was a little unusual to have Larry Rhodes, former long-time director of Manatee County's mosquito control efforts, recite William Shakespeare's Love Sonnet to me over the phone this week:
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
"Admit impediments. Love is not love
"Which alters when it alteration finds,
"Or bends with the remover to remove:
"O no! it is an ever-fixed mark"
The column prompted Larry to call and relate his own experiences with Miss Miller and some of the town's other unforgettable teachers. Among them were Miss Eleanor Alden. Larry surprised her by standing and reciting the Shakespeare sonnet in class.
Miss Alden was moved to tears, and Larry moved into a whole new realm of can do no wrong.
Larry can still recite the sonnet from memory.
Larry also was in Miss Miller's Spanish class. She had spent time in Mexico, and told the class the Spanish she would teach would be more like they would hear in Mexico City than Madrid.
Larry was one of several folks I heard from after the column appeared, some with stories about Miss Miller, or other teachers in Bradenton or elsewhere.
One of my classmates shared this memory of Miss Miller:
"I read and enjoyed your article about Miss Miller, who was indeed an exceptional teacher. I always tell people that I never learned anything else about English after having her as a teacher. One story, however, concerns Spanish II, which I took from her during my senior year. If you will recall, Miss Miller used to make us write repetitions of whatever we had missed. It was the last 2 or 3 weeks of our senior year, and Miss Miller told me I had to write some phrase 500 times so that I wouldn't forget how to do it right.
My classmate decided that he was so close to graduation that he could ignore the requirement.
"Well, when I went back to get my diploma after commencement, instead of my diploma, there was a note from Miss Miller which said, "Be in my class next Tuesday to complete your assignment or you don't get your diploma." That was Miss Miller.
Ann Jerman of Horseshoe Cove, a former teacher, also wrote:
"Loved your commentary! It brought back fond memories so your column did its job! I always told my little first graders every day that we will have a day filled with the joy of discovery - and we did! Thanks for the memory."
And I heard from a couple of Manatee County teachers, one of whom wrote in part:
"My epiphany came in my sophomore year with Ms. Daniel, who instilled in me an undying love of English literature. I never will forget her, Ms. McKinzey (history) or Coach McChesney (sociology). More so than any other high-school teacher those three saw and cultivated the potential I did not even know I exhibited."
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