Dr. Gottlieb's World History Course This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   This is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Paul H. Gottlieb



On the first day of the school year I arrived at my World History class late, as is the custom for most bewildered freshmen. I took a seat in the front of the room as my teacher introduced himself as Dr. Gottlieb. He told us to write an essay for the next day on what we felt was the most important event in world history. I couldn't believe it! Homework on the first day of school. I decided then and there that I didn't like him. However, this quickly changed. The class became the highlight of my day. I found myself eagerly awaiting history and the opportunity to listen to my teacher discuss ancient cultures as he made us discover reasons for events. My mind was challenged and I was developing a love for history.

Dr. Gottlieb was a remarkable man and I came to respect him as an extremely knowledgeable and skilled teacher as well as a caring person. There were times when I felt like he was directing the lesson at me, that he wanted me to succeed. His classes were humorous and entertaining and I worked like never before. I became interested and absorbed in my studies as I tried to make him proud of me. I valued his approval more than any grade that anyone had ever given to me.

Aside from history, my classes were not challenging. I became somewhat depressed and I spoke less during class. One day Dr. Gottlieb called me up after class. He said, "Why aren't you sparkling anymore? You are so quiet. Can I help you in any way?" By saying those words to me he helped me more than he knew. He gave me the confidence I needed and after that, he had trouble keeping me quiet.

He assigned a research paper which was due December 20. We were told that nothing, not even serious illness, accident or death, would keep us from handing the paper in to him on time. He would make no exceptions. We understood that this meant that we should begin working immediately. However, I caught the flu and missed several days of school. On the second day of my absence my friend called me with bad news. "What?" I said, "What's happened?"

"Dr. Gottlieb ... Dr. Gottlieb is dead. He died last night of a heart attack."

* * *

When we walked into his classroom the next day, we were greeted by the head of the history department . We asked about the teacher who was to replace Dr. Gottlieb even though we knew that no one ever could. He was much too special to be replaced. We asked if our research papers were still assigned. She informed us that the paper was still expected but that the due date would be altered. "After all," she said, "there's nothing sacred about the date."

I have lost an amazing teacher, one who inspired me to learn and care. I have also lost a wonderful man: a man who cared deeply about people and was dedicated to making the world a better place. It is so hard to believe that he is gone. It just doesn't seem real. After all, nothing was supposed to keep us from handing our papers in to him, not even death. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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