Mrs. Scary-Berry


In high school, back in my day, to graduate on the honors track you had to take two years of a foreign language.

It was “suggested” to me, by my parents, that I should take Spanish.

It would be useful, they said.

However, my mother had minored in Spanish in college and if there was one thing I did not ever want to do, it was to follow in my own mother’s footsteps.

So I signed up for German.

In no time flat, my mother had marched me up the counselor’s office and demanded that my schedule get changed to Spanish. And bonus: my other electives had to be rearranged so now I *got* to take a typing class instead of art.

Anger consumed me.

For two years I seethed. The only B’s I ever made were in Spanish. I wanted to send the message to my parents that I was purposely not trying in that class.

I don’t think they cared, actually.

But I sure did.

So, one day I this week I was cruising through blogs that I follow when a gravatar picture caught my eye on a blog comment (I wish I could remember whose post)…

I know her.

I checked the name.

Sure enough, she was my Spanish teacher from way back when. She was tough and demanding and “scary” and fabulous in her frilly dresses, impeccable hair and nails, and matching mules that slapped her heels when she walked.

And she blogs! I should also mention that she looks exactly the same as she did back then. I don’t. She does. Perfectly coifed hair and all. How’s that for aging gracefully?

Do you know how weird it is to hear/see your Spanish teacher from high school (BEFORE the existence of the internet) say/type the word “blogosphere”? Pretty damn weird, I tell ya.


Mrs. Scarberry, thank you for giving me “B’s” when I didn’t really deserve them. Thank you for still managing to teach me something in spite of myself.

In the end, Spanish was exactly what I needed. So was typing.

I hate to admit that.

There is always a plan bigger than us…


85 thoughts on “Mrs. Scary-Berry

  1. Hee hee so then she’s a vampire or else she uses an old photo for her avatar? I let my kids choose their own language. I made them all take college track “just in case” but they got to choose their course load.


    • Back in the day, we might have said vampire. The other languages were “easy”. Spanish wasn’t. She sucked out our life blood. But by golly, I learned Spanish. It has been crucial for communicating with my Spanish patients!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I laughed out loud several times while reading this! And I loved your description of me! Also I can relate to the comment about your mom because I felt the same way about mine. As for the grade you didn’t deserve, you must have earned the B’s because I wasn’t inclined to give my students what they did in fact not earn nor deserve as indicated by the name you used in the title of this post. Another interesting thing is that when given a choice in the 9th grade about what foreign language to take, I chose Latin instead of Spanish. I only started taking Spanish in college because I needed another teaching field besides French. Sadly I never got to teach French, just English and Spanish. As for looking like I did back then, thanks for the kind words, but the old lady that looks back at me in the mirror everyday says that it is not the truth at all. In fact I keep wondering who that wrinkle-faced old woman is. “And she blogs! And uses the word blogosphere!” What did you think, old teachers just rode off into the sunset never to be heard of again. Actually my real passion lies in my blog and what I write about than it ever did in teaching. But as you said at the end, there is always a bigger plan than us, Victo. Thanks for sharing this and for the laughter and trip down memory lane. Hugs, N πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 16 people

    • You are the LAST teacher that I would have expected to find blogging!!! I would have expected you retire to some resort town in Mexico, sipping margaritas… πŸ™‚ So glad I ran into you here! Brought back all sorts of torment (in a good way)!

      Liked by 3 people

    • This is mystifying hilarity. Natalie. It was YOU??!! Oh well, why don’t we just make it a party? I wanted to do independent study in German bc there was no class. Without the confidence for Latin, I just stuck with Spanish through Advanced Placement. I managed to miss the fact that one of my strong suits was languages and ended up not only a Classical Studies minor who studied Latin and Greek under eminent scholars in college but a linguistics major as well.

      V, really enjoyed this piece. And yeah, I’d freak to find one of my old teachers out here. LOL. (And you do know that your choice of the path untraveled by Mom is a post all its own – if not a book. ^^)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t imagine stumbling upon my old French teacher. I majored in French, and although I love the language, after practicing medicine, I realize Spanish would’ve been so much more useful. I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, “learn Spanish” would be at the top of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Too funny! Love the comment, I took 4 years of German and loved it. Haven’t used it a day out of high school. Spanish would have helped me immensely! By the Mrs. Scarberry your blog is gorgeous!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. How great! And loved reading this. When you said that your mom wanted you to take Spanish I thought “great choice” and I thought “oh no, don’t take German, as you can use Spanish so much more”. But I totally relate to the situation. Totally!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this Natalie–a french loving spanish teacher, go figure!!–you must be a language queen!
    It is funny when they (our former students) find us (their former teachers) living in a world they never could have imagined us in. . .
    your impressions, those impressed upon your “kids,” will have lasting repercussions / impact, as your lessons, those of academia as well as life will continue long after you are gone—that’s the magic and wonder of teaching πŸ™‚
    To teach is indeed to touch the future—and to help shape it into something so much better than what could have been—
    here is to Natalie “Scary”berry and her heel clacking mules πŸ™‚
    from a colleague from afar πŸ™‚
    Hugs and love from Georgia to Texas and teachers everywhere—

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very similar experience here, except I wanted to take typing and because I moved around a lot (3 high schools) I never could get it. I was pushed into Latin, though, not Spanish. Annnndddd…. I’m glad, years later, that I did. Funny how that *sometimes* works out.


  8. I hated typing, and made my lowest grades in it, but it was the most useful class I ever took. Loved French, but rarely use it. Not sorry I took it though, just wish I’d taken Spanish too. I wonder if Spanish should be required for one year, anyway, and let moms off the hook.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because my job is largely typing now, my fingers can fly. Freaks patients out. Soooo glad I took that class. I am of the opinion that kids should be required to take multiple languages. Get stuck trying to purchase a subway ticket in Paris and you REALLY start to appreciate people who speak something more than their own native language! (Sure wish you had been with me for that, Ms. French-speaker!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • We were in Paris summer before last and although it had been a LONG, LONG time since I studied French, what I did remember did come in very handy indeed. I agree, kids should be required to take multiple languages that starts in the lower grades. They do in Europe. Blessings, Natalie πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Not only did I have to take two years of a foreign language to graduate with honors, I also had to take three semesters of it to fulfill the requirements of my *English degree*. Sigh. Thank God for the Pass-Fail option so it didn’t affect my GPA if I blew it off.


      • Yep, D and above and you’re fine. Shows up on transcript, but doesn’t impact the GPA at all. Of course I didn’t find out about it halfway through my junior year (and it was for one class per semester), but it was sure helpful not to have to try so hard on that while I was doing internships!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I was crazy and signed up for Latin with only one other person and they dropped it, so I took French. I don’t remember any of it. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to choose, if it makes you feel better I wish that I would have taken Italian? That’s pretty cool about your old teacher. πŸ™‚


  11. My wife speaks English, Latin, and French. She even plays Scrabble in French. English being her first language. I had to take a second language for my degree. I took French and my poor, sweet, dear, wife tried to help me but I was hopeless. I failed every test but I worked really hard and put in a lot of extra time with the instructor. I ended up with a B minus. It was the hardest B I had ever achieved.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It sounds like you were pretty good in Spanish. I took French at Community College because I thought it was prettier than Spanish. Should have taken Spanish because I live in California and it is very good to speak Spanish here. I did not take any language classes in high school and when my French teacher found out he sighed and rolled his eyes as I remember. The only way I survived French was to recognize all the verbs. I can still hear him calling me Mademoiselle Barr.


  13. I, too was forced into taking Spanish and had a “Mrs. Scarberry.” She forced me to use a Spanish name similar to my own, which I hated! Little did I know that I would end up married to a man from Mexico and give my daughter that very beautiful name that I once loathed!


  14. What a wonderful discovery!

    My parents forced me to go to secretarial school so that I would always be able to get health insurance. I hated it, and them for making me do it. But I turned my secretarial job into a job as a low level lobbyist, and it led, bit by bit, to my current life as a fake medical expert and actual medical writer. So it turned out not so bad …


    • You know, I really hate on some level when parents are right. But you can bet I am going to pull out this post in a few years when my kids need to hear it! πŸ™‚ You turning secretarial school into this… well that is a testament to your hard work. Well done!


  15. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I had to reblog this. Firstly because it was a terrific post but also because of the response from Mrs. Scary-Berry herself, who I am now following. Most of us have kicked up a bit over the choices our parents made for us. I decided early on that I wanted to be an Actress/singer (blame 1940’s musicals my mother watched every Saturday afternoon) however this was 1969 and my two sisters had trained as secretaries and I was told in no uncertain terms that I was to follow in their footsteps so that I had something to fall back on. I hated shorthand and typing.. however they were right – there have been times I was very grateful for those skills and they led to some very interesting jobs.. great post and look forward to more of Mrs. Scary-Berry


  16. It’s good it ended up working for the better. I’m Spanish and I was taught French that I didn’t really care that much for at the time when I wanted to learn English. I guess I eventually got my wish…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Kudos, on a lovely post, and the honesty, and the courage it took to share that. Sounds like the compliment to your teacher was well-placed at any rate, and IMHO, whatever it was you were “expected” to learn when you were in school, you learned it all and much, much more. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

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