Non-Profit Organization - Teacher's Corner

Interview with Fran Moriarty Fischer, Teacher,
Ridgewood Elementary, Eureka, CA

How was Guy as a student?
Talkative! Even then Guy had quite a personality. I do remember him always being concerned about other students-wanting to make sure other children weren’t being teased. Guy’s parents were very involved with the school’s activities. They chaperoned the eighth grade trip, helped in planning graduation and even coordinated the eighth grade graduation t-shirts which featured a list of all the graduates.

What’s your favorite memory of him as a student?
Guy had created an amazing history project about his pretzel cart-the one he used each year at the Humboldt County Fair. I encouraged him to enter it in the first Humboldt County History Day. The morning of the competition I picked him up and we loaded his project into the back of my truck. Part of the competition was verbally explaining his project to the judges-talking to people was certainly one of Guy’s strengths. He won the local competition, went on to win the state completion in Sacramento as well-which allowed him to go to the national competition in Washington DC.

How did you feel when Guy selected you to be his most influential teacher?
Extremely honored! I had followed Guy’s career and was so pleased for him as his successes just kept multiplying. Long ago, my first administrator commented that we as educators may never know what impact we have on children’s lives until several years later-if then. It makes me very pleased to know Guy remembered me.

What was it like seeing Guy for the first time in several years at the photo-shoot in Disneyland?
Indescribable! Proud, honored and very fortunate! Not having seen Guy for over fifteen years (I had last seen Guy at one of his restaurants in Santa Rosa), I was so anticipating this reunion. Guy was in my class thirty years ago. He is still just Guy-down to earth, easy to talk to-not at all pretentious. Having the opportunity to see his folks again as well as to meet his wife and children made this reunion extra special.

What was the photo-shoot like? How did it feel getting hair/make-up done and having your picture taken?
At first it was a bit overwhelming…a photo-shoot? Me? But all the people from both Jones New York and Disneyland were so kind! The make-up and hair was fun of course but I really am used to having 24 kindergarteners in the picture with me.

What’s your best word of advice for new teachers who want to make a difference in their student’s lives?
Expect the best. Set boundaries and enforce them-it helps students to feel safe and consequently they are willing to take academic risks. I have always told my students that it is my job to teach and their job to learn.

What’s the biggest word of advice you tell students who want to succeed like Guy?
Find your passion and don’t let anyone or anything discourage you. I was told in high school I would not be successful in college. Having taught now for thirty one years, having earned a master’s degree as well as being a consultant for a national math and science foundation-I just can’t imagine having spent my life any other way. I love teaching.