Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Learning lessons

Went up to Carter Middle School today. A little out of the way for a Halls guy, I know.

But Language Arts teacher Angie Nicely had invited me to speak to The Writers Group. The group meets each Tuesday to fellowship together, study grammar and share stories. Then, for one hour, they write.

I found a lot of bright kids up there. They weren't necessarily the smartest kids in the school. But many of them had a lot of passion. Nearly all had opinions to share. All of them love to write.

Couldn't help but think while driving back to Halls about some of my favorite teachers. Too many to name here, but I'll single out one or two.

Never will forget my senior year English teacher. I had taken the subject almost for granted. Had never received anything below an A --- ever. Mrs. McNeely gave me a B plus. And I want you to know, I earned every bit of that and subsequently went on to breeze through my English courses at UT.

I could write a whole column about Mark Duff. Short and sweet: He taught me to think, he challenged me to challenge myself and my own ideas and he instilled in me a desire to never be satisfied. You can always --- always --- do better.

Guess he did something right. He's the school principal now.

And what to say about Doug Bright? Well, for starters, I tested into the final year of humanities-required Spanish as a UT freshman because of him. He took a subject that could be tedious and turned it into a daily delight.

But more than this he's someone I am proud to call a friend. High school would have never been the same without him.

UT was more of the same. Steve Ash ignited my spark of interest in American history into a raging inferno. Lorri Glover (and the book "American Scripture") gave me a deeply abiding respect for Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence.

Ying'pin Hao literally opened a new world before my eyes. Paul Pinckney taught me how to be a better human being.

I could go on. Bottom line is good teachers are such a precious commodity.

I woudn't be who I am without them. I so hope you have been just as blessed.


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