Some days we begin to understand life a little bit more and that is an attentive blessing.
This past December, I guess I was paying special attention when I participated in a San Antonio Health Fair. My job assignment was to engage in active dialogue to promote the awareness of disease prevention using currently available vaccines.
In the booth next to mine was a Texas Securities employee by the name of Joann Kocurek, an exceptionally cordial lady. Working there two days, time lent itself so that we got to be talking associates. This helped the time go by quicker when there were few contact people coming by our booths during this health fair.
Soon after returning home from San Antonio I spoke to my wife about Joann Kocurek. This had to be full disclosure. I am comfortable talking to my wife and am used to it; I had to tell my wife everything.
As a survivor of two minor strokes, I have to be thankful to God, my wife and family. That experience made me more dependent and closer to my wife, so we talk a lot, agree, disagree and move forward. The reader must understand that because of the minor strokes, a great portion of my long-term memory has been lost in the abysmal crevices of what we all have: a potent brain.
I had a feeling my wife sensed that I had a memory revelation, or bonus gift, as we like to call them. I said to my wife: "Honey you are not going to believe what I just remembered talking to Joann Kocurek at the San Antonio health fair. Her last name sparked and tapped into my long-term brain archive files about my first big crush. That was a memory that I had lost long ago."
My wife smiled with that gorgeous radiant smile that caught my eye over 35 years ago. She knew that there was a twist to this story before I even spoke. She knows me that well.
Mrs. Kocurek was the name of my seventh grade reading teacher about 45 years ago. I just remembered how much I enjoyed her class and what a great impact she had on my affection for reading and writing. I had a colossal crush on that incredible teacher.
This teacher had superb people skills that saw potential in all her students. I always listened in wonder. The windows of opportunity that I have realized in my life were initially opened by her for others to hold open to enhance my life.
"Let me tell you more about the magnificent Mrs. Kocurek, sweetheart," I said.
I continued with high-spirited enthusiasm and pleasure to have made this discovery about my past memories. Mrs. Kocurek was my idol and could always motivate her students. She was the best teacher in the entire universe as far as I was concerned. I was protective of her, in a way.
I was early for her class, I passed out books or handouts for her, I cleaned her chalk-board, I came by after school when I could and I got an "A+" on my report card. OK, maybe one time I got an "A-," but some of that material was difficult and I was not completely fluent in English yet.
Because of Mrs. Kocurek's wholehearted inspiration, I became a fast learner. I absorbed all the knowledge she would share in her daily lessons. She brought books to life when she read with her insightful explanations.
The parts of a sentence became second nature to me and in college it became easier to excel in Spanish classes because of Mrs. Kocurek. I was always quick to raise my hand up to help, to give the correct answer or to complete any other assignment she needed done during class.
Wow, Mrs. Kocurek, you were fantastic. I still have fond memories of you today. You were a fabulous teacher that made learning fun and interesting while showing a genuine interest and care so that the students would succeed. Your teaching methods, efforts and human skills did not go unnoticed.
I am glad to have re-discovered that hidden memory to dedicate a column to one of the great role models that really enjoyed teaching our children well. Teachers do so much and get so little financial compensation. Honestly, great teachers should be paid more. Students tell your teachers how much you appreciate their hard work.
This is my 100th column dedicated to a great human being and educator: Mrs. Kocurek, Seale Jr. High School "Teacher of the Century" in my eyes. She communicated successfully with her students. I am sure that she impacted many other students as much as she did me.
Most of all, I am glad I was attentive enough to see the clues to remember Mrs. Kocurek. Now, I think often of Mrs. Kocurek, and I am grateful for what she did for her students.
Joe-Santos Medina is a resident of Robstown. Readers may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.