Nuns and Baseball

Posted by on Sep 27, 2011 | No Comments

The back to school season reminds me of a number of teachers that were influential in my life. Over the next few months I plan on telling stories about several of them. If you’d like to tell a story about a teacher that was a notable influence in your life please contact me. If you’re a teacher who wants to tell a story about a student that influenced you, that would be great too.

In first grade a nun motivated me to play baseball at a level that put me in the major leagues. Some of my classmates barely made it to first base while I was heading toward home for the third time.

Well, although my first grade teacher really was a nun it wasn’t really baseball–it was a game of “Reading Baseball.”

Sister John Daniel thought she’d inspire her little first graders at Holy Family School in Auburn, Washington, to excel in a true skill in the game of life: reading. She created a little paper baseball for each of us and put up a diamond on a bulletin board in the classroom. For each ten books we read to an adult we advanced one base. Now I have to admit, on the real playground I was a klutz–often the last kid picked for teams. I can’t recall for sure but wouldn’t be surprised if girls were selected before me. But reading–this was a game where I could excel!

My mother started to read to me and my two brothers from a very early age. She encouraged this game of reading baseball and pretty soon I was advancing around the bases. Our home bookshelves were soon devoured and regular visits to the library were required to keep up my blistering pace. I read to my mother, grandmother, and expected that if the mailman had lingered too long on the front porch he would have been forced to listen to me read Harry the Dirty Dog or if he was lucky, Aesop’s Fables

In no time at all I was across home plate and was making a second circuit of the bases. By the time I crossed home plate I was so far ahead that Sister John Daniel let me pick the color of the baseballs for the third circuit; pretty heady responsibility for a first grader. This game of baseball had certainly fueled my passion for reading at an impressionable age. It even changed my early career aspirations from garbage man to writer.

I know that much of my personal success is based on my interest in reading and life long learning. If you’re interested in helping kids succeed in school check out Treehouse, a group dedicated to helping “…give foster children a real childhood as well as hope for the future.” Not everyone has a nun to inspire them to read through a game of “baseball.” But everyone deserves a shot at a good education.

How about you? What teachers have inspired you to be the person you are today?