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The Journal Gazette

  • Thompson

Saturday, May 13, 2017 1:00 am

Recalling a teacher's life-shaping impact

National Teacher Appreciation Week inevitably brought more apple-themed gifts to some classroom teachers this week – particularly those at the grade-school level. Others might have been fortunate enough to receive a handwritten note of appreciation from a student or parent.

But those who didn't receive personal tokens should know they are changing lives, as Madeleine Thompson's former students remind us. The former chairman of the English department at Northrop High School died May 4 at 98. Though she has been retired from Fort Wayne Community Schools for decades, her students haven't forgotten. They shared touching online tributes to their former teacher.

“How many lives can be changed or a direction of a life altered by just one woman?” asked Kathleen Schultz-Brill of Winter Haven, Florida. “My love of books is all because of her, all these years later I still read with a healthy appetite for more. Now I am writing my story and hope to see it in print soon and it all goes back to her believing in her students and her teachings. Thank you.”

Fort Wayne resident Judith Sculley wrote that Thompson was likely “the smartest woman I ever knew.”

“She taught me more than any course I had ever taken,” Sculley wrote. “During my first year of teaching, she counseled me, and guided me through every lesson. She basically taught me how to teach. ... She helped to shape my life and I will never forget her.”

“I loved Mrs. Thompson,” wrote Lisa Zion McNiff of Marshall, Michigan. “She taught 'to write, you must apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.' After reading 'Crime and Punishment' as part of our summer reading list, I fell in love with Russian literature. I also fell in love with Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises.' For graduation she brought me a leather bound copy. She will live in my heart forever ... especially every time I apply the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair to write.”