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/.

NPR

Tabasco And Beer-Flavored: Not Your Easter Bunny's Jelly Beans

On the eve of Easter and National Jelly Bean Day, let us probe the mysterious origins and unexpected ascendency of the humble candy. And to celebrate, we've sampled Jelly Belly's newest flavors.
NPR

Tabasco And Beer-Flavored: Not Your Easter Bunny's Jelly Beans

On the eve of Easter and National Jelly Bean Day, let us probe the mysterious origins and unexpected ascendency of the humble candy. And to celebrate, we've sampled Jelly Belly's newest flavors.
NPR

Obama's Favorite County — At Least When It Comes To Giving Speeches

The president has visited Prince George's County, Md., four times this year. It is the most affluent county with an African-American majority. It also happens to be very close to the White House.
NPR

Ohio's Law Against Political Lying Heads To Supreme Court

Can a state law prevent political campaigns from doling out misinformation? Guest host Celeste Headlee learns more from The Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton.

Leave a Comment

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