Learning from the best

The best teacher I ever had was in my freshman year in college in my Music Appreciation class. Lou Cuccinello, an old curmudgeon whom I absolutely hated, was the professor. Remember I said best teacher – I didn’t say anything about liking him. Professor Cuccinello told us all we would hate him and hate his class, but that we would learn from him. In fact, his mission, he said, was to teach us how to learn. And, he did. Music Appreciation was in a group of mandatory electives and we had to choose three or four to meet our degree requirements. I liked music – what could be so bad? Well, for starters the professor, and for finishers, the final. Our final was to learn (and demonstrate) how to successfully tune a harp. I did it. And, Professor Cuccinello did it – he taught me how to learn and the importance of listening and pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone.

When I think about mentors, I can remember many over the years. There was the school nurse who taught me about menstruation (a forbidden topic of conversation in my house); the older sister of a middle-school friend who taught me the importance of wearing a good moisturizer (yes, even at my young age); the daughter of friends of my parents who had become a nun and demonstrated the patience to accompany me on my driving exam; the head of the theater department at my state college who showed patience with me as her work-study girl who knew nothing about theater, costumes or set design; and so, so many more along the way. I still have mentors. Some of you know who you are, some of you don’t. The people I regard as mentors are those who really teach me something through coaching, demonstrating or simply living.

In this issue of Maine Women, we are full of great stories about both teachers and mentors. I think you will enjoy the first-person stories, the columns and the great features we have included. I liked Faith Gillman’s piece about the virtual high school, Maine Connections Academy. I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of these schools and, as a parent, what I would have done if my kids wanted to go to a virtual school. Originally, I thought, what an awful idea. So much of our young lives are formed in and around our middle and high school experiences – both in and out of school. I thought the kids who attended a virtual high school would really be missing out. After reading about the two young women featured in Faith’s story on page 18, I am changing my opinion.

I hope that you enjoy this issue of Maine Women. I really did. We try to include stories and information that you just won’t find anywhere else here in Maine. We love to hear from you, and please, take a minute to “like” us on Facebook. Watch for our next issue to be on the stands on Sept. 16.

– Lee Hews, Publisher

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