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Mrs. Kraft Helped Me- revised
Working on an update, teaching people how to succeed in today's office envirnment
DON:Lara in Lake Tahoe 2009.jpg

At twelve I had this strange feeling that everyone was against me except one person but I didn't know who was that was. A wave of paranoia had swept over me that built up until the day we had to write a Halloween story for our 7th grade english class. Our teacher was Mrs. Kraft, a lovely woman and excellent teacher all the boys loved. My story was about how I was going to go out on Halloween and steal little kid's candy bags. That had happened to me when I was 10 to my utter mortification so I put all my paranoia to work in retaliation through that essay. Up until that day I had been doing well for Mrs. Kraft and remember feeling a little apprehensive upon turning in the piece. As soon as she read my essay she stopped the class and had me stand up so everyone could hear. "Don Surath everyone does not hate you. I don't know what gave you that idea but I will not accept this essay. Take it back and write something worthwhile before you leave today" My shock was superceded only by anger and embarrassment. As I stumbled back to my seat my first thought was to rebel and do nothing. My junior high reputation suggested that probability. Somehow my crush on Mrs. Kraft was stronger so I wrote something appropriate and somehow turned it in by the end of class. It wasn't until years later when I realized my paranoia ended that day. Who knows how my life would have turned out without a kick in the teeth from Mrs. Kraft. Would a 21st century teacher have the guts to do such a politically incorrect act of public humiliation? How did Mrs. Kraft completely figure me out? By the time these thoughts entered my mind it was so long after the events that she probably didn't even remember me. When I figured out how she helped me I decided to become a teacher. It wasn't until 9 years later when I finally entered the Teacher Corps that I paid a visit to Post Junior High in the hope of telling Mrs. Kraft of my decision. Not knowing if whe was still there, I snuck in to the school and went to her room. There she was. I knocked on her class door and she came to see me. "Do you remember me?" I asked. "Hello Don", she answered. I could hardly keep it together thanking her for what she had done for me then proudly announcing my decision to become a teacher. I could see the emotion in her face. We shook hands and I departed. It was a great ending for my most important teacher. I taught for five years in Inner City Detroit loving every minute. It is not clear if anything I did had as lasting an effect as what Mrs. Kraft's tough love approach did for me. I moved to California shortly thereafter so if someone wanted to thank me it would have been impossible. At my store in Palo Alto I hoped one of my students would find me and give me that same feedback. It never happened.