Influencers Before Influencers Were A Thing
So, in reflecting a bit on the writing of Cretin Boy, I got to thinking about what makes a teacher memorable. What are the characteristics that send some to the top of the list while others fall away? I have a few good friends who are teachers, well liked and undoubtedly well respected.
Much of it stems from the demeanor of the teacher, the excitement or enthusiasm level for sure. In the book I mention an Algebra teacher I had that I was never very fond of. Some of it was my distaste for all things math, but much of it was this teacher's demeanor. He carried himself with a level of grumpiness that carried over into everything he did.
If someone were to question if it wasn't more related to my dislike for math, I would argue that why did I enjoy Geometry so much a year later as a sophomore? It was the teacher. Mr. Horyza was fair, funny and firm. If you struggled in any area, but came in for help, he kept track of that and gave you credit for it. It required going in before school started and there were always a few guys lined up waiting for a few minutes of his attention to help them figure a problem out.
Along with that genuine concern for helping students, his classroom environment was kept upbeat and light. He was funny and engaging. He was clearly in the right profession.
Of course, most of us have a favorite teacher, I even have a few. In grade school I had Sister Patricia for homeroom and while she could be a little Kathy Bates-in-Misery-ish when she got angry (I'm you're #1 fan!) she was always fair with us. She liked me, mostly because I was the quiet kid. As nuns go, she was cool.
Mr. Gallett (also grade school) taught me the love of poetry and English. I still remember him telling the class how he was walking home one night and the cops stopped him. They made him take off his stocking cap to prove he didn't have a weapon in it. Okay, that's a new one.
Mr. Wescott was an amazing football coach, a dedicated teacher and inspired great personal pride and school spirit for St. Lukes.
Mr. Tierney pushed us to question authority and not trust corporate America. His enthusiasm was remarkable, especially considering he was in his 26th year of teaching. He taught so far outside the box that I'm sure it would hit the headlines today. Probably the best teacher I ever had.
Brother Walter was a great soccer coach and one of the nicest teachers at Cretin from a demeanor and positivity standpoint. He always encouraged me to lift weights in the summer to make me a better, stronger athlete. I didn't listen though, to my own detriment. It showed he cared though.
Mr. Hughes, my homeroom teacher for 4 years at Cretin reached out to me when he found out I was fatherless. Not only a great human being but an amazing magician.
I don't know why I think of these folks so long after having been under their direction. Probably because they played a small part in who I am. If you haven't taken the time to thank a teacher that influenced you, you'd be well served to. I know they will appreciate it.
So, who was your favorite teacher?