Nothing leaves a deeper mark in gradeshool and high school than the scars left by a teacher. Good or bad, they leave imprints worse and more permanent than acne. So I thought, with all this remembering and recollecting, why not pay tribute to perhaps, one of the most iconic instructors back in SJS. The one who, in a snap, has forever changed the way I look at… dentures.
Mira lao shi, also known as the teacher of dread. Mira lao shi was the fifth grade Chinese teacher notorious for her argus-eye for cheaters and her loving relationship with the painful end of a broomstick. She was known for being the strictest and meanest instructor in the department (and the Chinese teachers were already at the top of the scale). I should know, all my siblings had her.
I was not a studious gradeschooler. I had to hide under a chair whenever it was time for my mom to test me on the provinces (plus capitals) of the Philippines. I only aired out my books during the quarterly examinations and I made it to the honors class every year because I spent the entire summer praying and promising God that I’d do better–it was more to save face since everyone in my family was a bemedalled nerd (hahah <3). Being in the honors class was the least I could do to uphold the tradition. My couldn’t-care-less attitude would not jive with a teacher like Mira lao shi who was famous for making students stand on their chairs for missing recitation, stay for extra hours of cleaning for failing a quiz, and do other absurdly embarrassing things. And yes, let’s not forget the broomstick.
When I entered fifth grade, I received two amazing surprises–one, I was still in the honors class and two, Mira lao shi has been reassigned to a different level. I was safe to do another year of academic floating. But a month into sixth grade, our cool teacher had to leave for Canada and he was inappropriately replaced by… Mira lao shi. At that point, I already had one failed Chinese quiz, not a good place to start with a teacher who… in a way, demands perfection (?)
Let’s just say that after that remarkable year, I officially became a nerd… all to avoid getting spanked with a broomstick. They say it takes two weeks to turn something into a habit, well, after one year of intense studying, plus I had Mira lao shi for second year and third second year, studying became second nature.
Mira lao shi was a subject of frustration, anger, and hilarity. Yes, hilarity. Her voice, shrill and high-pitched, was like nails on a blackboard–it’s one of her torture tools, seriously. Her beady eyes bulge out when she’s spotting cheaters and she does the bulged-eye and nostril-flare when she’s yelling pointedly. In the human world, both fall under the “funny faces” category but in some other realm, they’re supposed to be menacing.
1. When you drop your dentures (as in fall from your mouth to the floor) in the middle of class, the graceful thing to do is to pick it up and then shove it back to your mouth. Forget that the floor is not exactly the most sterile thing in the world. No illness or infection is worse than being seen without teeth.
2. When your posture is not so straight and you’re wearing a button-down blouse, sometimes it shows a portion of your stomach. A student might stand up and inform your of this rather inappropriate revelation discreetly. We don’t really need you to pop open your blouse.
3. When your teacher catches THREE cheaters (one of which was an unlikely culprit) in one class during the same test, don’t even think about copying during her class.
4. She hates someone named Faye Levina… that hate extended to Albertine Principe and Lauren Relucio.
5. When you don’t have the world’s perfect grammar and you’re translating Chinese sentences into English. Please don’t insist that your students memorize your muddy English translations. I remember getting a mistake in a quiz because I corrected the grammar. 😦
What’s your Mira Lao Shi experience?
First of all, nothing here is fabricated. Mira Lao Shi is one great teacher. No, no sarcasm implied. She’s half-mom, half-monster, half-educator which I think is a perfect combination for a teacher–comfortingly friendly yet still respectable (who cares if the respect stems from fear). Plus, despite her quirks, she’s a smart, common-sensical woman. Because of her, I also understood the importance of studying and how we shouldn’t waste our parents’ hard-earned money by flit-flitting through school. I don’t think I would’ve had a fun time in college had she not terrified me into studying.
Plus, she loves me, Riza, Chesca, Stephanie, and Ba.