Sharing a blog post from a few years back… the sentiments are the same, and the content is timely given the start of school for many kids around the nation. -J.D.
Summertime is drawing to a close, so I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite teachers from down through the years. I have many; here are memories of just a few.
In kindergarten there was Mrs. Smith. I went to school that first day with my heels in the pavement and then didn’t want to leave by the time the bell began to ring. What a lovely woman. She helped to lay a foundation in my heart to love school and learning. I’ll never forget Mr. Fried (pronounced “freed”) in 6th grade.
He was a man’s man, a deputy reserve sheriff, black belt karate instructor and a no-nonsense dude. He was Mr. Rules, no excuses put-your-sorries-in-a -sack kind of guy. One memory stands out among all the rest. I joined his karate class.
Mr. Fried was friends with Chuck Norris, who also taught karate at the time. Our classes met in competition. Mr. Fried’s brown belt student beat Chuck Norris’ black belt protégé! My 9th grade history teach was Mr. Hawkings. I thought he was cool. He brought history alive.
He later became the mayor of my hometown. In 10th grade there was Mr. Fields. He was a hippie who challenged everything. As a teenager, I was drawn to his independent streak and admired him for it, even though I didn’t agree with him on many issues. My most influential teacher was Mr. Moro. He was my football coach and a man amongst men.
His motto was simple: Work hard. Play hard. As tough as he was, he was compassionate, kind and connected with all the kids. He made you feel like the most important person in the world. Across all the years, these are some of the fine people who shaped and molded me. I wonder what has come of them? I wish they knew how much they meant to me – and mean to me still. Are they all still living?
Someone told me recently that it’s become popular on Facebook to pay tribute to teachers by reconnecting after decades of silence. I think I’d like to do that, to try and track down some of these heroes of my childhood. You might want to do the same thing. The teaching profession often gets a bad rap, for all kinds of reasons, valid and not. But the vast majority of those in the profession are trying desperately and admirably to make a positive difference in the lives of today’s young people.
I don’t think we give them enough credit, especially those who touched our own lives even decades ago. Have you looked back lately? The years pile up and the memories begin to fade. Reach back. Try and remember. Is there a teacher who helped turn the tide in your own life? Is there an aging, possibly retired educator, who might appreciate a kind word from a former old student? I’d encourage you to try and track them down. Never underestimate the power of gratitude and appreciation.