Dissecting earthworms, examining organisms under a microscope and discussing human reproduction never was my thing. I hated biology. There was never any chance I’d have a career in veterinary medicine or criminal forensics. I couldn’t even field dress a deer.
History, geography and literature were my subjects. They still are.
But I liked my biology teacher, Mr. Dykes. He was a philosopher, dramatist and master sergeant all in one — a throwback to an old-school, interdisciplinary method.
He was into character education years before it became a concept.
Although he was a scientist, he encouraged me to learn Latin, because he said I would need it if I was ever going to be a journalist, historian or lawyer.
Mr. Dykes could make you feel 10 feet tall with a compliment — something he gave sparingly. Or he could stare at you in stony silence until you thought you were going to die.
His theatrics were sometimes a little over the top, but they got your attention.
He knew different students had different abilities, and he would tell you that Bob, for example, didn’t need to come to class every day because he has an IQ that’s in the stratosphere — and you don’t. But he expected your best. Anything less was unacceptable.
And he wasn’t one of those teachers who tell you what to think. But he made you think.
Mr. Dykes wasn’t the only teacher who made an impact on me. In college there was Carol, a blunt, no-nonsense journalism instructor who would ask a student, “How can you be so d----ed dumb?” But you would be smarter when she was done with you. And students appreciated the tough love. When she died of cancer, the funeral home overflowed with former students who came to pay their respects.
Being a teacher may be the best calling their is. It’s an opportunity to change lives, and in doing so, change the world.
I’ve shared a couple of my stories. I want you to share yours. How has a teacher made a difference in your life? Next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Send me your stories in the form of a letter to the editor (no longer than this column), and I’ll try to get as many as I can in the paper and on our website.
Mail them to the Sun at 20 Wall St. or e-mail them to email@example.com.