all teachers. In Hollywood, it is only the female teachers who must
posses this maternal side. The female teachers “are forced to deal with
issues of parenting within their retrospective films while the men cited
do not” (Dalton 91). In the book I Answer with My Life: Life Histories of
Women Teachers Working for Social Change, recurring themes were found
such as, “Many women define being a teacher as a fundamental
existential identity...These women work for children, not for those who
pay their wages” (Dalton 90). Dalton agrees, and says that it is clear that
teaching for the women portrayed in these Hollywood films “is much
more than paid employment” (90).
This was definitely the case for Miss Paeck. You could tell she
wanted to be a teacher because she wanted to help and watch her
students grow. She wanted to be a fundamental part in our
development, just like a mother. I know this because of her continued
attentiveness to us after she got sick. Like my own mother would, Miss
Paeck put my fellow classmates and me before her illness. She was not
getting a paycheck, of course, since there was another assigned to out
class, but it was clear even before this that the salary was not the primary
reason she chose to teach.
Another Hollywood teacher “requirement” that Miss Paeck
possessed was her never- mentioned private life. As Dalton says, “In
films, most women teachers are single and childless, or their marital and
maternal status is not revealed to the audience” (Dalton 99). After
studying teachers in movies, I completely agree with Dalton’s assertion
that “The men and women who are good teachers in movies are not
perfect, but if you were to ask the students they teach what makes them
different they would probably tell you these teachers really care about
their students and are willing to do right by them at great personal cost”
(38-39).
I found out about Miss Paeck’s passing a little over a year ago.
I now live in New York City with my family, so I was not up to date
with what was going on in the small beach community where I went to
elementary school. I still have some family there, though, and my uncle
was the one who had heard the news first. He knew how much I had
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