English Teacher Reaches Through Student's Haze

Play associated audio

Christine Eastus was a double major in English and chemistry with plans to go to medical school. Instead — to the chagrin of her parents — she became a teacher.

In the 1970s, she taught English at Greenhill School in Addison, Texas.

"Once I started teaching, it was a completely new world, sort of frightening in a sense, because you're dealing with students who are so impressionable, but it's heady stuff particularly when people like you, catch the bug and become writers and let you know about it," she tells NPR's John Burnett. "That is a real high, to hear from someone who's your age still remembering me and I'm sure many of them curse me because I guess I was a bit demanding."

Burnett says after leaving Eastus' class, it was a while before he could pick just pick up a book and enjoy it because he was still "digging into light and dark motifs."

Eastus says Burnett stood out because he was so much taller than the other students and played the harmonica.

"And your mind worked somewhat differently from other people's minds," she says. "You find interest in rather pedestrian situations and make them come alive, to this day."

Eastus was so important to him, Burnett says, because he "really felt subhuman in high school, like a lot of students do, I didn't feel like I was good at much anything.

"But I loved to write stories and you reached through the haze and grabbed me by the collar and said, 'keep writing,' and I really think you helped to sort of turn a light on," he says.

"I'm so glad I didn't go to med school," Eastus says.

"So am I," Burnett replies.

For this year's National Day of Listening, pay tribute to one of your teachers on Twitter using #thankateacher, or go to the StoryCorps Facebook page.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


High Glamour Infuses A Forbidden Love Affair In 'Carol'

Todd Haynes' new film chronicles a lesbian affair between a middle-aged married woman and a young store clerk. Critic David Edelstein says Carol captures the thrill of a once-forbidden subculture.

Some Ancient Farmers Grew Fava Beans Before They Grew Grains

The fava bean is a key staple in much of the world. Researchers say they've found fava beans in the Galilee region of Israel dating over 10,000 years ago — before grains had been domesticated there.

Caught Between A Turkey Leg And A Political Diatribe? We're Here To Help

Nobody wants a side of politics on his or her Thanksgiving table, but it's probably going to happen. Here's some advice to get you through — you may need to buy a duck quacker, though.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.