It's a bit strange coming face to face with your high school principal decades after you graduated.
Mr. Snowberger invited me to speak at the Portage County Retired Teachers Association last week. I feared he might pull out my "permanent record" and recall my diploma.
The event was a great opportunity to thank some of the teachers that changed my life. It was great to see Mr. Bliss, my old history teacher, and Mr. Ricco, who taught me English in 9th grade. It was sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Bennett, the band instructor who taught so many students not to die with their music in them.
I left full of gratitude for the imprint those teachers left on me.
A math teacher taught me to balance my checkbook to the penney. (Thank you, Mr. Saviers.)
A social studies teacher taught me to question authority. (Thank you Mr. Farrell.)
A biology teacher taught me to be accountable. "There's no such thing as a free lunch, Brett," he used to say. (Thank you Mr. Roberto.)
An English teacher taught me to love words. (Thank you, Mr. Ricco.)
A speech teacher taught me not to fear a microphone. (Thank you, Mr. Singer.)
A choir teacher taught me the joy of singing every morning, which I still do in the shower. (Thank you Mr. Maske.)
The men and women in that room had retired after 30, 35 and 40 years of teaching. Imagine how many hundreds of lives each of them changed.
They certainly did fill our souls with dreams, as journalist Clark Mollenhoff wrote in this poem he dedicated to his mother, who was a teacher.
You are the molders of their dreams
The gods who build or crush
Their young beliefs of right or wrong.
You are the spark, that sets aflame
the poet's hand or lights the flame
of some great singer's song.
You are the gods of the young, the very young
You are the guardian of a million dreams
Your every smile or frown can heal or pierce a heart.
You are a hundred lives, a thousand lives.
Yours the pride of loving them
And the sorrow, too.
Your patient work, your touch
Make you the gods of hope
Who fill their souls with dreams
To make those dreams come true.