Just a thought… A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. [Henry Adams]
Here we are, nearing the end of another school year. I remember so clearly how deliriously wonderful these last days felt, especially in elementary school when parties were held, projects were taken home and the whole delicious summer stretched out ahead.
High school didn’t have quite the same abandon: there was the panic over which exams would have to be written and whether I’d be exempt from any (as some of us with higher grades could be, in a three-semester system at our high school). It’s a time fraught with emotion as you prepare to say your good-byes – sometimes for the summer, sometimes for life. (Well, of course, that was before Facebook, when people could stay connected forever. But you know what I mean.)
It’s amazing how some of those teachers who guided our way through the months and years of education have stayed with us. I remember a few who stood out: Sister Joanne Culligan who taught me in grade five and found a way to use Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock” as a metaphor for religion. (I also later realized that when I thought she was praying with her head down on her desk, she was napping. Those must have been some early mornings at the convent!)
I remember the Grade 11 drama teacher who laughed so hard at a pantomime I was doing (to a sped up ragtime tune) that she couldn’t catch her breath. My first A-ha moment of the joy of making someone (who wasn’t family) laugh.
I’ll always be grateful to Bryan Olney, the Loyalist College radio professor who was speaking at a careers day when I was in Grade 13. The two speakers I wanted to hear were fully booked (I got there a bit late) and so I went to hear Mr. Olney. It was like I was struck by lightning and five months later I was in the course; seven months later I was on the radio in Belleville.
Just two weeks ago, after they connected online (about which I wrote here), Rob and I played hosts to his high school media teacher, Sterling Campbell. A fellow former Ontarian who’s moved to BC for the climate, he joined us for dinner and Rob got a chance to tell this man, now into his 70s, just how he had influenced his life.
Sterling said it was disconcerting to learn that some of his students were now themselves retiring! But there can be no doubt that it meant a lot to him to learn how much his year teaching Rob, and the course that he helped create for Sudbury Secondary School, meant to us. I mean, had Rob not taken that course, he wouldn’t have gotten into radio and we wouldn’t have met! I guess I should have thanked Mr. Campbell, too.
Have a lovely weekend – Happy Pride in Toronto! – and I’ll be back here with you next week. I have a story to share about getting scammed. Here I was warning you about a con a few weeks back, and I got taken by one myself.