Whoopi ♥'s Teachers

Q | Your mother was a teacher—what important lessons about teachers and teaching did she pass on to you?

A | The world of a teacher takes almost as much imagination as a kid has. Teachers have to be fearless with parents because most don’t understand what the teacher is doing—especially if it’s off the beaten path. Once, after Halloween, a pumpkin that my mom and her Head Starters had carved sat … and sat … and sat. The parents were antsy, but my mom let it continue to sit and slowly decompose and turn into whatever pumpkins turn into. Finally, the parents asked my mom what the point was. She said, “The kids need to see that what’s happening is not scary—that decomposing is part of life.” That shut everyone up. And the kids—well, they were fascinated by the process.

Q | You’ve struggled with dyslexia. How did you develop a passion for reading despite the difficulties?

A | I always wanted to understand the pictures in books, and something told me all those chicken scratches next to the pictures meant something. So when someone was able to show me what they meant, it was time to fly!

Q | Has any particular advice from a teacher stuck with you?

A | Ask a million questions. If a good teacher doesn’t know, she’ll ask some one, but a great teacher will go down the road with you until you both find the answer!