Of all things, he taught 7th grade Algebra. Not for the faint of heart, such an endeavor requires stalwart nerves. He appeared to possess nothing of the sort. He owned but one suit, which he wore everyday (or so it seems): baby blue polyester, white dress shirt, brown striped tie, hanging slightly askew. A roly poly fellow, he carried an uncanny semblance to Wallace Shawn. He’d be up in front, writing equation after equation on the blackboard, standing on his tippy-toes to reach the top. His audience an unruly lot, there were times he could take no more. That’s when he’d stop, whip out the calculator from the inside pocket of his jacket, hold it to his mouth, and ever-so-seriously say, “Beam me up Scotty!” And we would laugh and laugh.
We laughed a lot in that class.
When we worked our own equations, he sat in the corner, at his big wooden desk, working on paperwork of some sort or another. Occasionally, my friends and I would get a bit out of hand. Glaring over the top of his spectacles he’d say, “Girls . . . ” followed by a ‘threat’ that struck us hilarious. He’d simply shake his head and continue on his way; once we managed composure, we’d follow suit.
But the funniest thing of all: I loved math in his class–me, the person who now, at the very mention of the word, gets light-headed and needs to lie down. Loved it. I even signed up to take Algebra 3-4 in Summer School. Summer School, people! (who does that?)
Unfortunately, in summer school, the powers that be decided a history teacher would make a mighty fine math teacher. And so began my rapid decline in mathematical skills–a descent that rivals the The Crash of ’29.
But I suppose, if we never experienced a bad teacher, we’d never appreciate the good . . .
So to all the good ones out there, thank you.
Be you seemingly normal or weirder than a three-dollar bill, you’re the every day heroes of our lives. You teach, encourage, and stretch us. You make learning fun.
You change the world; you just rarely get the credit.