How would you have turned out if the teachers who taught you didn’t exist?
I’ve been pondering this idea over the past few days. Mr. K*, a former English teacher of mine passed away during the summer and I had attended his memorial two days ago.
I seem fine right now while you’re just reading text, but that day, I couldn’t get a clear sentence out to his wife because I was so full of raw emotion. It was the second memorial for his passing, arranged entirely by his former students at the school he taught at (and loved) for 36+ years.
This shows a lot– the fact that his students cared enough to organize a second memorial for him, and the fact that the auditorium was filled, with former students and graduates.
Mr. K was a gentle man with a honey-sweet voice and he never had a mean comment about anyone. I saw him frown once.
His impact on my life is amazing.
He started a minischool program which let students to graduate from highschool within 4 years. I was one of the lucky thirty students, and I would’ve attended a different school for five years, were it not for the program.
I probably wouldn’t have continued with my love for English were it not for him. I’ve always loved writing, but my teacher in elementary school had effectively squeezed the writing out of me with strict essays (and English rules that I disagree with even now).
Once I entered highschool, I only got As in English class, and always above 90%.
Mr. K was my very first English highschool teacher. We wrote journals at the start of every class, and it was then that I realized I’d forgotten the joy of writing, just writing.
And there’s something I told his wife that day, something profound that he gave me, something that I’ll always have.
He taught me the values of teaching: teachers offer students a buffet of knowledge, and students are free to take what they want. This type of thinking is valuable because it takes the stress off the teacher. And ultimately, it’s true– students can learn as much or as little as they want.
I’ll never forget the way Mr. K read Prometheus. As I spoke to his wife, I imagined every little action she described because it was just so typical of him, how he’d read through yearbooks at home to ‘see’ his students again, how he verbally expressed that he missed his students and being at school, and his smile when he mentioned his students. How the school was his second home, the students his children.
To this day, I still love writing, reading, and music. English is as fundamental as music, to me.
Mr. K makes a difference in my life. He helped me rediscover the value in prose, raw prose.
And he certainly lived so that people are crying while he is smiling, for his passing.
I wrote this post in about one hour, with just one draft, not caring who’s going to read it or why. I wrote it just for the sake of writing and honoring the great man.
I hope we all see the value in learning from others before it is too late.
Most of the time, it’s the subtle, profound lessons that matter most. I didn’t realize how much I’d learned from Mr. K until now.
Today is World Teachers’ Day, but even if it’s not, I encourage you to let your teachers know how much they matter– even a simple ‘thank you’ or a handwritten card will touch their hearts.
Your teachers might teach you piano, or theory, or mentor you, but the best lessons that you’ll learn from them are the ones about life. Even family members can be your teachers.