Teachers are such a powerful force in the universe. Their influence is infinite. There is one teacher who I remember and who stood out more than any other teacher, including my college professors. In high school I signed up for an elective entitled, “Textiles and Clothing.” This course taught students how to apply the principles and elements of design (including color) as they relate to clothing and textiles , while learning about the Fashion Industry—design, production and merchandising. In my mind it was an easy “A” and just something to do. It was rumored that the 4′ 11″, dark-haired and bright blue-eyed, candy apple-red lipstick-wearing Mrs. Waldmire was a “piece of cake” of a teacher to get over on. Some students said that she was easy going and her class was easy to excel in. However, it turned out that she was the meanest teacher that I had ever met!
The curriculum was rigorous with unbelievable expectations. I became extremely overwhelmed with the work load of reading assignments, research, writing projects and homework. Mrs. Waldmire rarely smiled. She kept demanding that we pay attention and stay engaged in her tasks for our lives during those long 50 minutes everyday. I wanted to drop out of her class. It was too much. There was nothing more intense and terrifying than the piercing stare that she gave us through her black-rimmed, rhinestone, cat-eyed glasses when we forgot to bring in our homework.
It wasn’t until the middle of the semester that I figured out that Mrs. Waldmire was not “half bad” as an instructor. She taught us concepts such as how to choose colors to wear to highlight the undertones of our complexions, what fabrics to wear in the four seasons of the year, how to sew, how to create designs for fashion shows and how to market our products. There were times that while we were sitting and sketching our designs, she would tell us stories of her life in England as a young girl growing up. The more Mrs. Waldmire shared examples of her life in relation to her curriculum of fashion design, the more we understood the concepts.
After awhile, we actually started to enjoy being in her class. Eventually, she started smiling and giving us verbal praise when we followed directions and turned in our work on time. Not only did she teach us the curriculum of fashion design, but she taught us how to interpret the fabric of fate and how to handle the threads of life’s challenges. My life started changing for the better because of Mrs. Waldmire. I started looking forward to attending her classes. There was no more coming in late or missing assignments.
All of a sudden, I actually cared about Mrs. Waldmire’s expectations of me because she actually cared about my well being. She cared if I ate. She cared if I had a good night’s sleep. She wanted to know if I was alright or if there was anything that she could do to help me. Because of this, I studied harder, spent more time creating new ideas for group projects, passed my exams, and I encouraged other students to do the same. Our final exam was to create a pattern, design a piece of clothing and display it on a dress form or have someone to model the piece(Our class was like a miniature version of ‘Project Runway’ on Bravo TV, in which designers compete for a chance to present their fashion design collections for Fashion Week in New York) It was so exciting to earn an “A” on my project and in the course. Mrs. Waldmire inspired me so much that I decided to continue to increase my knowledge and skills of designing. I’ve designed costumes for several productions and I am working on a personal collection now. But nothing is more impressive than the tid-bits of life’s lessons that Mrs. Waldmire taught us during and in between all of the curriculum rigor.
Since high-school I have continued to design clothing with a specialty in costumes. I think of Mrs. Waldmire almost everyday of my life. I will never forget her advice, encouragement, constructive criticism, and smile. Through a textile and clothing course Mrs. Waldmire was slowly preparing her students for the fiber of life’s uncertainties, obstacles and triumphs. Her impact on my life has been dynamic and infinite. Mrs. Waldmire challenged me, taught me, empowered me and she helped me to be the person that I am today. Her influence on me is powerful and it is forever!
Last year I had an eye exam and it was determined that I needed glasses. I found frames that was close in resemblance to the frames that Mrs. Waldmire wore when I was in high school. In honor of Mrs. Waldmire, these are my chosen frames for my first pair of glasses. (Eye glasses by Steve Madden)