Got news this week about the passing of one of my favorite high school teachers. High school, not exactly a time of my life that I would be all that interested in going back too to be honest. I wasn’t a big fan of the whole scene and I didn’t like living at home much.
But, just to show the impact that great teachers can have on there students, there were three teachers that stick out to this day, two because of how great they were at teaching, motivating and being there for kids. One because of what a complete jackass he was.
So there you have it teachers, be really good or be really bad if you want to be remembered.
Gary Wright was my choir teacher. The only teacher I had all four years of school he was a gifted educator who connected with kids with humor and compassion and respect all the good things that the best teachers bring out in kids. I was better for having known him.
I contacted him later in life on Facebook and was little sad to learn that he didn’t remember me, surprise since my family was very difficult to work with when you were an educator, Mom was a teachers worst nightmare. And while I wasn’t all that surprised that he didn’t remember who I was, it didn’t matter. His job was to make me better and more confident, and that he did.
BTW, as long as I’m reaching out about great teacher, I do have shout out my favorite high school instructor, she had a huge impact on me as well, only in her case I didn’t realize it at the time. Arleen Wattel was my Freshman Comp teacher and later my Shakespeare and Lit instructor. No instructor in my entire high school experience did more to prepare me for college than Mrs Wattel. I can say, with no exaggeration that she not only taught me to write, but she sparked a life long love affair with the written word. To this day I go out of my way to see Shakespeare on the stage, and every time I do, I think of her.
Funny thing, all the time we were in school we always thought Mrs Wattel was drill sergeant, used to joke about it in class. Little did we know she actually was a decorated Chief Warrant Officer in the California National Guard.
I chatted with my best buddy from high school, the only person from that time that I still have contact with, at least did before Facebook, Mark. He and I were in the Choir together. When I told him about Gary’s passing he made the following comment.
“Now that were on the back nine of life, there’s more of that sort of news to come?”
WFT? Back Nine of Life? This wasn’t supposed to be a Big Chill moment here.
Talking to college pal Jeff, I lamented a bit the idea that were heading to the Spiritual Clubhouse. Jeff, a brilliant analyst who’s very adept at making relevant analogies said the following.
“Sank, put a yardstick on the ground. If birth is 0 and death is 32 inches. Where do you think you are? Put your finger about 20 and see how much is left and how much is yet to go.”
OK Screw you too.
These are the two people who I’ve known the longest in my life, who have now conspired to light the fuse on my mid-life crisis. There better be a damned motorcycle or restored Porsche 911 in this for me somewhere or I’m gonna kick both their asses.
Or uh at least talk about it.