A Teacher’s Legacy

Dr. Mike Bellah

Hazel Sunderman died today. In the ’60s, she was my 7th grade English teacher, and, in the ’90s, one of my best fans.

I’ve been a published writer for over 20 years now, and I have a Ph.D. in Technical Writing. But I don’t think I’ve learned anything new about grammar or sentence structure since Mrs. Sunderman’s class.

That’s because she was one tough English teacher, the kind who had us diagramming compound, complex sentences at the blackboard. They don’t make ’em like Mrs. S. any more.

I told her so in the mid ’90s when she sent me a note complimenting one of my newspaper columns. I wrote back, explaining how whatever success I was experiencing was due, in large part, to her teaching.

Hazel’s son Max told me his mom framed my letter and put it on her wall. As an English teacher myself now, I understand. Our students are our best legacy.

Max called today to ask if I would officiate at Hazel’s funeral on Saturday. I told him it would be an honor.

And it will be.

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