Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Teacher's Role

Are fourth graders capable of solving the problems of the world?

John Hunter believes that they are. He also believes that it's an imperative they start practicing now.

He reminds me of the many inspirational teachers I have been blessed to have as mentors in my life. I owe those individuals a huge debt of gratitude for their faith in my capacity. I forever stand on their shoulders.

John Trapasso, my seventh grade history teacher:

He came back from India alight with a passion for Hindi culture and blew my mind with the concept of reincarnation. He was notorious for the hand cramps you'd get
writing essays hovering around twenty pages during in-class exams.

Victor Fink, my grade school music teacher:

I don't remember learning anything about music in his class, but vividly recall how he captivated and terrified us in equal measure with his rendition of The Monkey's Paw and delighted us with open-book tests that included questions like, "Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?" and "What color was Napoleon's white horse?"
Mr. Fink taught us that sometimes the best thing to do is to flaunt convention.

Joana Bryar-Matons, my high school Spanish teacher:

The record spun and out flowed beautiful music and poetry which we would translate on the fly. If we proved distracted or slow on the uptake, she'd look to the ceiling and swear, "I shit on God!" in Catalan.

Leroy Votto, my high school history teacher:

His ability to bring history to life by immersing us in primary sources was nothing short of breathtaking. His patience and trust in our innate goodness and humanity came in a close second. His genuine curiosity takes third.

Richard Lautze, my high school teacher of many hats:

I have yet to meet anyone as committed to experiential education-- a concept that has informed every aspect of my life since my initial introduction.
I am still amazed and humbled that he saw in me not only a student, but a peer.

Lon Abbott, my college geology teacher:

His short shorts and ability to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim at the speed of light left me in awe. His skill presenting geology as a story of revolution, rich in metaphor, left me with a deeper spiritual appreciation of nature.

David Lovejoy, my college outdoor education teacher:

True to his name, his warmth made the wilderness accessible for me. He was the competent, feminine-style role model I needed in order to believe in my own ability to be a leader in the outdoors.

Mark Twain said, "Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great." These are a few of the teachers who have made me feel capable of greatness.

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