What a teacher is, is more important than what (s)he teaches.

I had two high school teachers that taught me lessons that stuck with me, neither lesson having anything to do with academics.

Mr. J. was “that” male teacher.  He taught our high school Social Studies and coached football.  He definitely liked the athletes more than the non-athletes, and according to rumors, he sat the girls near the front so he could look down their shirts.  I am not sure if this was true – most of us, including me,  had nothing to look at (unlike girls these days, not all of us were developed in high school) so he probably sat me in front because I had two older brothers that played football, and I was on the “good” list just because of my last name. 

I don’t remember learning much about anything in his classes except the one time we were allowed to debate abortion, for some reason I remember that topic.  Did he teach civics?  I think so, but I’m not even sure…

The one thing I remember him saying was along the lines of, “Get involved in as much as you can because years from now, you will remember the stuff you did as a team mate or a member of an activity, not what you learned in a classroom.”  Boy was he spot on.  This is the stuff I remember!  (Me, on the furthest left.)


Mr. R. taught science.  He was my chemistry and physics teacher in high school.  He was the stereotypical science nerd.  And he was so very kind.  In my tiny high school, there were something like 5 or 6 of us in those higher level science classes so we were a little posse.  We also were the kids that took Calculus.  Yep, call us what you want.  Anyways, back to what Mr. R. taught me.  He and his wife had a preemie daughter born way too early and she was hospitalized 200 miles away in the Twin Cities.  Our small little science & math posse decided we wanted to take a field trip down to the science museum and Como Conservatory, and he went along with the plan.  I remember trying to raise a little money selling one guy’s mom’s Rice Krispy bars.  Oh yeah, back then gas was 89 cents a gallon, each bar sold got us 20 miles.  Smile  Ok, so once we earned our way down there, Mr. R. dropped us off at the Science Museum and headed to the hospital to see his daughter.  Yep, we were not chaperoned as we learned about the magic of science.  We never told anyone until now, and I am still proud of him for sneaking a visit in to his daughter.  That is a life lesson that sticks.  Family comes first.   I wonder how his daughter is now?  I wonder if he knows I remember his rule breakage as one of the highlights of high school academia? 


Which leads me to wonder what kids will remember about me 10 or 20 years from now.  Will they remember me as the freak who said off-the-wall things?  The one with cool purple hair?  HAHA.  The one who listened when they needed an ear?  The one who held them accountable?  The one who was mean?  The one who showed mercy?  The one who taught them a certain academic skill?  The one who told them learning fractions was important, but knowing what kind of verb a given verb is, is not important?  (Really, other than for further school, how often in real life do you name verbs?)  I wonder…I wonder if they will remember me at all?



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rachelle
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 07:50:41

    I always had fond memories of our high school. It was nice going to a small school for me, because the teachers got to know me. I don’t think I ever had Mr. R, but I did have Mr. J. My brother, Mark, has plenty of memories of Mr. R. 🙂

    My favorite teachers, well were basically everyone. Ones that stick out though most for me were Mr. B and Mr. L. I even got to be a teacher’s assistant to the second graders for Mrs. Y. She is currently the first grade teacher & almost got my niece in her class, as my brother, Charles, still lives in the area. But my brother wanted her to have his first grade teacher. Poor teacher to have to not only put up with my brother, but now my brother’s kid? JK 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your memories & lessons learned from those teachers.


  2. Larisa
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 17:27:44

    I know one student who will remember you 20+ years down the road for everything you do for him and the other kids. You’ve got a special place in his heart, and he misses his morning “squishes” from last year still. 😉

    I still have memories of favorite HS and Elementary teachers as well.


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