How can I find the 8th grade teacher who inspired me so much?
June 23, 2008 3:00 PM   Subscribe

How do I track down the amazing 8th grade teacher I had in 1994? I've tried all the obvious things, but no luck...

Ok, quick background - I am Italian and went to an American school in Naples, Italy, where most of the teachers were married to the military stationed in the city. In 8th grade (1994/95) we had an amazing inspirational teacher called Mrs Patricia H.
I loved her classes and they inspired me to go to university in England where I've ended up doing a PhD and generally being very happy. I'd love to get in touch with her to let her know what a big influence she's been on my development.

Unfortunately she left the school suddenly and since then I've been unable to track her down - and I've been trying every few months for the past 12 years! (No, the school won't help)

I've read some similar threads here and done all the obvious things: Google, Facebook, writing to people found in the white pages, LinkedIn...Websites such as Peoplefinders and Intellius offer results if I will pay for them and they may or may not be useful - I don't know if she's still married. I don't know if she's still a teacher, or what states she lived in. I've even tried weird Google queries such as 'teacher Naples 1994' but no luck.

Any other suggestions? I find it so frustrating that the Internet can give us the most random information, but I can't track down someone who was so important to me!
posted by ardief to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why don't you call or otherwise contact your school in Naples and ask if they have any information?
posted by pseudonick at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2008


Why don't you call or otherwise contact your school in Naples and ask if they have any information?

"(No, the school won't help)"
posted by redfoxtail at 3:06 PM on June 23, 2008


If you can make an educated guess at her birth year, you may be able to find her using the free results at zabasearch. Certainly, you can try calling some of those Patricia H's and explaining who you're looking for and why.
posted by dersins at 3:15 PM on June 23, 2008


Respectfully: have you considered the possibility that she doesn't wish to be contacted?
posted by box at 3:19 PM on June 23, 2008


Respectfully: have you considered the possibility that she doesn't wish to be contacted?

We teachers relish any opportunity to hear from a former student, especially when s/he is doing well and thinks we had something to do with his or her success. Do whatever you can to find her and let her know how much she meant to you.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:26 PM on June 23, 2008


Was it the Naples American High School? If so, then you should go to this page, which is a reunion site (not for 1994). There is a main contact person who has been trying to get hold of faculty and students for a reunion later this year, and his phone/email is provided.

Mrs. H is not on the list, and it's not for your year, but it appears they have contacted enough faculty members that one of them would probably know how to reach her.

Regards
posted by lockedroomguy at 3:31 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am Italian and went to an American school in Naples, Italy, where most of the teachers were married to the military stationed in the city.

Was the school Naples American High School (run by the U.S. Department of Defense)? If so, I'd suggest contacting the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and the Department of Defense Dependents Schools - Europe (DoDDS-E) which must have records of former faculty and staff at their schools.

From the DoDEA School Alumni Pages there is one for Naples High School. Consider contacting the listed contact Sherwin Porciuncula.
posted by ericb at 3:44 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


One method of finding someone is to have them find you: put up a small web page (maybe this very askme question will suffice) that the person in question (or someone knowing her) might google up. Add strings (maybe as part of a short explanation) that would match this situation (her name, your name, school name, city, country, year, etc.) and make sure it has a current contact address. There's a pretty good chance that one of her relatives, friends, or colleagues will find it eventually and let her know.

This method has the added benefit of leaving any contacting up to her: if she doesn't want to talk to you, she doesn't have to, but at least you'll have made your sentiments clear.
posted by pracowity at 3:47 PM on June 23, 2008


[removed the last name here -- you can ask for general finding tips but not FIRSTNAME LASTNAME tips, sorry about that.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:31 PM on June 23, 2008


I've had a lot of luck finding people from my childhood by using Classmates site: www.classmates.com.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 4:49 PM on June 23, 2008


Are you in Naples now?

Maybe the local libraries will have copies of the yearbooks from the time you attended there. It might be in the Reference Section, but they might have them. She may be listed in a yearbook.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:48 PM on June 23, 2008


You might find a lead by contacting her former colleagues, rather than trying to get it in one hop.

While this might not be true in all schools, every school I was in had a robust gossip mill.
posted by plinth at 5:58 PM on June 23, 2008


Thanks all for the replies - lots of useful leads! To answer a couple of points -

dersins- I might try to call if I find the courage to be so direct :-)

box - yes it did occur to me that she doesn't want to be contacted. I am just hoping that like HotPatatta and other teachers, she would be happy to be contacted instead.

lockedroomguy & ericb - it wasn't the High School but a private school; however, it's possible that teachers all knew each other, so I'll try it, thanks!!
posted by ardief at 11:52 PM on June 23, 2008


The general problem is that the person you wish to find may now have a different name. It would help if you knew the person's birth name (if different), or some detail that could link them through a name change to their new name (a home town, the college they attended, or an interest).

In this case, you might have better luck tracking down an easier to find teacher from the same era, and asking them if they know how to reach this person. While the school won't help, it's possible that another teacher will.
posted by zippy at 1:37 AM on June 24, 2008


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