Saturday, May 31, 2008

A closed mouth gathers no flies

Yesterday was Miss Prescott Day in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Parents and former students organized a surprise reception at LAYC to recognize the Egan Junior High language teacher's 40 years of teaching approximately 8,000 students, including all four of Los Wiener. Los Altos Mayor Val Carpenter and Los Altos Hills Vice Mayor Jean Mordo read proclamations honoring her (after which emcee Rick Lanman told them "Thank you mayors.") My favorite story from the reception was about a student whom Miss Prescott (who is blind) caught making spitballs in class -- she made him stay until he had made 1,000. (My eighth-grade history teacher, who earlier told me that I "turned into a stud" and "should have three or four wives," claimed credit for the idea.)

Miss Prescott (soon to be Mrs. Kavinoky) had a regimented style of instruction that gave students a better understanding of English grammar than we ever got from an English class. At her reception, a parade of former students spoke about how she taught them so much that they didn't learn anything new until Spanish IV. I remember when my classmates and I arrived at Los Altos High School as freshman, a large group of us protested that Spanish II Honors was not hard enough. We expected to be learning new tenses and made to conjugate more verbs. We failed to realize that they were none left to learn (until we got to past subjunctive-conditional constructions in the aforementioned Spanish IV).

Miss Prescott also introduced me to the phrase "En boca cerrada no entran moscas," forcing me to write it 50 times after I had mocked a student who was struggling with his oral exam. (In my defense, I was only retaliating against him on behalf of a student that he had mocked). I had no idea what it meant, even after using a Spanish-English to translate it literally. When I finally asked someone to explain it to me, the answer was, "It means you should shut up."

Congratulations to the only teacher to ever get that across to me effectively.

1 comment:

Lydia said...

I had Miss Prescott in the late 70's. I fondly recall that very same saying, but not from ME having to writing it, of course. I also remember her making another student apologize to a plant he pretended to choke. It was hilarious! You never knew what you were going to get on any given day in Miss Prescott's classroom. For someone who is legally blind, she had an incredible knack for seeing everything--and I do mean EVERYTHING--that happened in that classroom!