I’d guess that most of us have had at least one teacher over the years who made a difference in their lives. I’ve been lucky enough to have several. While I remember them all, Miss Jarmol was probably the first one whose class I really looked forward to going to everyday. She was young and fun, but she was strict in a lot of things too. She was the first to really get me interested in poetry and was very supportive of my efforts. I’m pretty sure the poem I wrote that made it to the 9th grade yearbook got there via her mentoring. Whether it was our class’s dramatic portrayals of “Man of La Mancha” or “Romeo and Juliet” (where all of us 8th graders were embarrassed and tittering at what we perceived as the salacious bits) or having “Cattlemen vs. Farmers” party to highlight our reading of “Shane,” she made learning fun so that it stuck with us long after. It’s been a long time since I was 14, but Miss Jarmol and her 8th grade English class still live large in my memory.
So this poem is my belated gift to Miss Jarmol. Wherever she is, I hope she knows that she made a difference.
with her short red hair
and neon mini dresses,
with shoes and tights to match,
knew how to make 8th grade English fun,
even with her daily spelling and vocabulary words
and weekly tests on both.
She walked around the class
with her pet boa constrictor
wrapping itself around her wrist
like an extra bracelet.
I didn't like the snake,
but my best friend cringed
every time Miss Jarmol
got too close with it.
She was dramatic
and challenged us to look at the ordinary
in new ways.
She enriched our lives with poetry--
T.S. Eliot and Edna St. Vincent Millay,
as well as the poetry found in rock and roll.
All these years later, I still remember
the lessons she taught.
I wonder if she's still alive;
if she is, she'd be very old,
but I bet she'd be one feisty old lady.
Miss Jarmol made a difference.
I wish I could've told her
just how much being in her class
affected my life.