Wow, lots of stuff to write about this week.
First, shout out and sincere thanks to all the teachers who have touched me, and shaped my life over 60+ years. Looking back, I had amazing teachers throughout my student career in Dodge City, Kansas during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. They helped me choose education as a career. Over nearly 40 years in the profession, I have had the honor of getting to know, and working with, some amazing educators. A few former students are today, teaching, would like to think that I had a small bit of something to do with that.
Like an award winner giving an acceptance speech, there are way too many to mention by name, and I would unintentionally leave out some very deserving people.
So I will call out only three. First and foremost, Buster and Dorothy, my parents. We pay lip service to “parents are the first teachers,” but it is certainly true. They did what all great teachers do, they believed in me, loved me unconditionally, guided me, did their level best to teach me the right things to do, let me fail and learn some hard lessons without rescuing me from the consequences of some less than great choices, which taught personal accountability, one of the most valuable lessons of all.
Next on the list is my brother, Frank. He is four years older than I am, was my hero growing up, remains so today. A brilliant student, an exceptional human. A new, exciting and different approach to math education took root while Frank and I were in elementary school, cleverly called “New Math.” Dad and Mom didn’t really understand it, and how we were being taught to solve problems was very different from the methods they were taught and used. Understand, they were of the generation that had both survived the Great Depression and kicked the world’s butt by winning World War II, no small accomplishments. And they have every reason to have some swagger in their lives. But they didn’t get New Math. Many conversations were held around our dinner table. Not very different from conversations being held today between parents and children about Common Core Math…Frank “got” New Math, and he made sure that I did as well.
A lot was talked about, and learned, around our dinner table. Some of it actually had to do with what was going on at school.
Frank and I shared a remarkable English teacher when both of us were in 8th grade, Mr. Deyoe. He shaped both of us throughout our remaining school careers in Dodge City, and in my case, he still does. He, Dad and I were playing golf together one afternoon while I was still an undergrad in college. We were talking about teaching. He had just been named a Kansas Master Teacher, as if his credibility with with me needed a boost. I have never forgotten one of his comments, “There are great high school teachers, and there are great grade school teachers. But it takes someone special to be a great junior high teacher. Not everybody can do it well.” All of my classroom teaching experience included the junior high/middle school learners, and most of my building level administrative experience has as well. Mr. Deyoe wasn’t wrong then, and he is right today.
Mr. Deyoe was one of several outstanding humans who touched me as teachers. Several I have studied under or worked with have won numerous awards and are enshrined in various Educator Halls of Fame. I have kept my elementary school report cards, the memories of those teachers come back to life whenever I pull them out.
Not all have received the public accolades they earned, but they all mattered and made a difference.
To all, I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation, and I dedicate the following to all teachers, from Dan Clark:
The world is full of quiet heroes
Who never seek the praise.
They’re always back off in the shadows
They let us have the limelight days.
You’re the one that I look up to
Because of you I’m free.
You set an example I could follow
You helped me see my destiny.
I’ve had my share of broken dreams
But you said I could win.
You gave me the chance I always needed
To start my dreams again.
You took the time to teach and tutor
You showed me rules to rise.
You changed my fears to glory tears.
You’re an angel in disguise.
I wouldn’t be where I am today,
I’ve won my share of times.
Unless you coached me through the maze
And pushed me on the hardest climbs.
It’s just your style, the extra mile
No glory, must be tough.
You let me have the accolades,
A smile, you said, was just enough.
So even though my thanks don’t show
Unnoticed you will never go.
I need to say I love you so
You’re my hero.