- This is in answer to:
- Recall one of the best teachers you've had. See all answers
- May 24, 2012 by lkazel
- A Most Wonderful Teacher
Out of all my high school teachers, Mr. R., the young man who taught 9th grade history was the most memorable even though I was blessed with many, many great teachers. When I was in school, 9th grade history was generally a course in world geography with an overview of the relationship between ethnic groups and the political boundaries that defined the countries they lived in. There was much emphasis on maps. This course was a precursor to more intense study of American and World History courses to come.
Long before I entered 9th grade in 1962, I was always enamored with maps and globes having a well-worn world atlas and a box filled with “National Geographic” maps from the earliest days of publication. I would spend hours twirling my globe with closed eyes, point a finger on a spot when it stopped, and if it wasn’t in the middle of an ocean, I would look up the country I landed on in the set of Collier’s Encyclopedia my mother had bought on time from a door-to-door salesman.
Mr. R., my 9th grade history teacher, brought all of my curiosity to life as we learned countries and capitols, cities and regions. My favorite assignment in class was the actual construction of maps. A girlfriend and I picked Africa and we set to work drawing the map on two gigantic pieces of poster board my mother bought. One Sunday afternoon, our heads were bent over the dining room table working furiously with crayons and colored pencils (years before markers) when there was a knock on our front door. It was Mr. R., who lived down the street, stopping by to give us some “atta-girls” for our hard work. His short inspirational visit that a teacher would do this just about blew our minds! He was a really nice man who genuinely cared for his students.
Mr. R. and his wife rented an apartment in a farm house that belonged to an acquaintance of my dad. Also a renter in that house was a girl in my class whose mother was reputed to be a prostitute. My dad told me that “something happened” there that caused Mr. R. and his wife to go their separate ways and the woman and her daughter to be evicted. Apparently, the landlord, who I remember as a scary, deeply religious zealot, contacted the school complaining about a person of such questionable character who was teaching children and I suspect Mr. R. was not invited back. I never learned all the details of the story but I remember feeling broken-hearted that this wonderful man was gone. The worst part of this news was that I had placed my much admired teacher on a pedestal because he really turned me on to studying and learning something I loved. That he was human too and had the capacity to make mistakes was to me the cause of much distress.
Many years later, I remember Mr. R. with much fondness for the gift of enthusiasm for learning he imparted on his students. I hope he went on to teach many other young minds.