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OFF THE CUFF: Say what?!? High school source of quotes passion

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By Cheryl Duncan, Assistant Editor

I’m a sucker for a good quote.

I often call them “quotable quotes.” And I’m not picky. I bounce from the profound to the ironic to the offbeat to the humorous to the colorful ... and then back again.

My passion for words probably plays a big part in it. Combine that with a journalistic mind, and you have someone who is constantly milling through life looking for someone to utter memorable phrases and/or sentences.

My passion was fueled in high school, where I had the luck to have not one, but two English teachers in harmony with quotable quotes.

Mrs. Cobb, my freshman English teacher, had a standing assignment. She had a quote written on the chalkboard every day, and it was up to us students to get out our quote journals and decipher the meaning of such quotes as “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

(A chalkboard, for those of you in today’s classrooms, was my generation’s low-tech term for your white board, but without the keyboards, software and enthralling graphics and video. If the teacher really wanted to spiff it up, he or she might buy colored chalk for a bit of variety over the standard white or yellow. But I digress.)

Mrs. Cobb primed my thinking for her successor. Ms. Threet was such a quote junkie that her treat for us on slow days was “The Popsicle Game.”

The Trivial Pursuit-type action was so named because Ms. Threet penned quotes on one side of a Popsicle stick, and the quoter’s name on the other.

She pulled them out at random, and her questions introduced us rural students to the likes of the urbane Dorothy “You Might As Well Live” Parker and the macabre Edgar Allan “In A Kingdom By The Sea” Poe.

(It’s too bad Ms. Threet didn’t market The Popsicle Game, which preceded Trivial Pursuit by more than a few years. She could have had a retirement such a wonderful educator like her deserved. But again, I digress.)

That’s why I’m honoring these fine teachers and educators worldwide of their caliber with a bevy of quotes about their wonderful profession.

I never took the opportunity to tell them about the positive impact they made on my life. I hope Mrs. Cobb is somehow able to read a copy of this somewhere.

Ms. Threet is now dancing in the heavens with the likes of Poe, Parker and others on her time-honored Popsicle sticks. I’d hope she’d take a minute out of her schedule to look over my shoulder, but I feel her spirit with me as I type these words, and I know she already knows.

Thank you, ladies. This one’s for you.

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire. William Butler Yeats

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. Marian Wright Edelma

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. Sydney J. Harris

The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog. Mark Twain

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. Robert Frost

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

Education is the movement from darkness to light. Allan Bloom

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Cheryl Duncan is assistant editor of the Roane County News who is eternally thankful for her and her daughter’s outstanding teachers, both in and out of the classroom. When you count your blessings this holiday season, don’t forget to thank a teacher. They leave indelible footprints on your life.