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She looked like a kind, little old lady, but Miss Ramel was like a tiger in striking position. She was an English teacher and our beloved drama coach. We could get pretty goofy at times, like memorizing different dialogue to see if she was listening. We liked to tell the new kids that she was a lunch lady and to give her our dinner order, or we'd tell them her name was Izzy. But we loved her because she was emotionally invested in us and our production. Miss Ramel directed us with power, deep feeling, and humor. Her front door was red, and that always defined her for me. I loved her.
Ted Snyder was my choirmaster, and I don't use the word "master" lightly. He could yell—sometimes scream. He could slam a piano key cover with panache. When we did it right, he would get this euphoric glow in his face. We lived for that. There were the days the sopranos were shrill, the altos sounded like post-menopausal women, the tenors croaked and the basses bottomed out. He was a demanding curmudgeon and we worshipped the ground he walked on. He was one of the top five people who influenced my life.
Politics were dicey in the late 60s, early 70s. I was a shaker and a mover. We had the Kent State Moratorium. We just got up and left classes at a predetermined time. We had banners and drove cars up on the front lawn of the school. The administration couldn't do anything to stop an entire school. Talk about solidarity. This went off everywhere, every school, all at the same time. We had several tiers of cliques. There were the jocks and cheerleaders, the hoods, and the hippies. My friends and I were the hippies. My big claims to fame were the three hunger marches I helped launch, one for each year. The funds we raised went to migrant farm workers. These major freaky hippie types and minorities came to my house for basement meetings. My parents would stare at each of these people with eyeballs popping. They never said a word to me. They were proud of what I did.,
A small group of us would protest at the supermarket on Saturdays to talk people out of buying grapes and iceberg lettuce, which were not unionized. I learned a lot about people doing these things. I perceived a deeper meaning in my life. I was becoming.
A Learning Experience
Then there was Mitch. He had a huge crush on me, but I kept it at friends. He couldn't understand what I saw in Stephen. Mitch was a drummer, a hippie; sweet and kind. I saw so much in him. When it came time for the prom, he asked me to go, but I was going with Stephen. So he drove his own car to the prom and sat on the other side of me. Mitch told Stephen he was my other date for the prom. Everyone took it for the fun idea it was meant to be. I danced first with one, then the other. Of course, Mitch being who he was, didn't wear a tux. He opted for a suit. When school was over, Stephen was going to a French summer camp and then to college. Mitch and I started dating after he left. It was a great summer, but Mitch always said he was just the bridge between high school and college. I guess he was right. We are still good friends. He never married and claims it's my fault. Stephen married a hippie chick who died suddenly. Up until about three years ago, he stayed in touch, too.
I loved school. I did not achieve scholastic genius until college, but I did okay, and had a life, too. I could feel myself unfurling. Teaching would be my goal now, but what to teach? I wanted to teach everything, anywhere, to whoever would listen.