Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gin Pooler: 10 Years Later

I've mentioned it a few times before, but when I was a kid, I was extremely shy. I had a hard time speaking up in class all my life, even through college. I was always in awe (and usually still am) of people that could stroll into a room and immediately command all attention.

One of the most memorable attention-grabbing people that I have ever met in my life was Virginia "Gin" Pooler.

Pooler, as we all called her, was a teacher at my high school, which went from seventh to twelfth grade. Pooler was THE teacher because everyone that was at Whitney took her class, as she was the only sex education teacher during my time there.

With big blond hair, a rather deep and booming voice, perfectly manicured red fingernails, and an imposingly tall stature, she was unabashedly attention-getting. Pooler stomped through the halls of Whitney, alternately teasing, laughing, scolding, and generally mothering all of us. She had no shyness, no shame, and the perfect amount of bravado to keep teenage boys enamored of her.

I went to school with her daughter (a year older than me) and her son (a year younger than me, in my sister's class), so Pooler was (I think) probably even more comfortable with us, all the kids that were just about the ages of her kids at home. (On a side note- sex education from your own mother must be a tough class to take!)

Though she struggled with ovarian cancer, she came back to school shortly after her first bout, in a wig that was almost like her old hair. I remember that she gloated about never having to shave her legs again, making us all laugh when it could have been so heartbreaking. I loved that about her.

Pooler's cancer came back, devastating the many, many people whose lives she touched. She passed away ten years ago today, just a few months before her son's (and my sister's) graduation from Whitney. The school she influenced, the school her kids attended, the place that was made that much better by her presence.

I miss her still. I can't believe it's been ten years, but it has.

You're forever loved, Pooler.