An Ode To A Teacher: Mrs. Marjorie Pierce
I have often spoken and written about teachers that have made an impact on my life. This weekend, I learned of the passing of the one teacher that captured my interest and really put me on the path of working in radio with Mrs. Marjorie Pierce.
She was a language arts teacher and drama teacher for many years in the Knob Noster School District.
I really got to know her, when my brother was in a play called Our Town in the early 1990s. I felt after watching this play that doing some drama is what I'd like to do when into high school. It seemed to be fun to try and be somebody that you are not or extend your inner self out.
I for some reason didn't try out for the play my freshmen year and we had a musical my sophomore year, so I decided that I would be involved with the play, by running the lights and curtain my junior year. The problem was, we did not have enough boys try out for the play, 'The Diary of Anne Frank' and it looked like the play would not go on. I remember she talked with me and I decided that I would take on the role of Mr. Kraler. She was very thankful and even though I remember I was one of the last guys to memorize my lines, she worked with me and after all was said and done, she gave me the sign of approval by her saying, next year you'll need to do it again.
I honored that request and came back as Ed Hoffman in 'Time Out For Ginger' which was a comedy about a girl that wanted to play football. I played a banker and had this role where I had to do a snake dance. If you know anything about me, it's that I was born with two left feet. After many rehearsals, she stopped the play after I did that part and had everyone do a snake dance along with me and I'd like to think I got it down, because it never happened again.
She directed many plays for the Knob Noster School District and she encouraged the best from students. My quick stories were a microcosm of how she was. She could take a student and put them into roles they never dreamed of and transform our gym into an auditorium. Whether it was taking me from lights to the stage or transforming the Knob Noster Gym into the 'Land of Oz' or 'Our Town' or making it into a Western for 'Annie Get Your Gun' or even helping out with 'Little Shop of Horrors' or countless others.
There are thousands of students that went through her classroom and put her teachings to work. In her classroom, we learned a lot about Language Arts, but I also recall watching movies like 'West Side Story' and 'Somewhere in Time' just to name a few.
I recall her love for some cheesy jokes and puns when the time came up. Most of all I remember her smile and laugh, whenever we'd get ready to have our break a leg ceremony before the final performance of our plays.
I would be remissed if I didn't mention her love for the KU Jayhawks. She graduated from there in 1957 and even during the height of MU vs KU, we knew where she stood and we didn't hold it against her until after the outcome was over. Maybe it was for the fear of having to do an extra report or having to have extra long rehearsals, even if we did well.
I think she taught us that the world was a stage and we were just the mere players. If what Shakespeare said was true that there were seven ages to each act, then people like Mrs. Pierce had several encores. I hear the applause from each of the times I step foot upon the stage under her direction.
While us students learned the art of drama, she truly lived it and breathed it and set us in motion. I was lucky enough to stay on the path of the arts and will forever be in her debt for the countless hours of line learning, acting, dancing (ok that one didn't exactly stick with me) and the love of drama and musicals. My thoughts are with her family, friends and coworkers at this time.
The curtain may have closed, the lights may be out, but one thing I remember about being behind the actual curtain and after the lights were out is the applause. It could have been the funniest play ever or the saddest one, but the applause was always there. I applaud you Mrs. Pierce and thanks for everything.
Bravo, bravo Mrs. Pierce