An Enegritic Man, He is

January 26, 2010
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“OH EM WOW!” That’s how he usually walks into my 6th period algebra class. I’m always wondering how he gets that wonderful energy after lunch. Is it what he eats? The people he sits with? What he drinks? I would think he would be dead tired, wanting to go home, and annoyed with all the problems his PASS (Patriots are Successful Students) class and 2nd-5th period classes have given him. But, no matter what, he’s always moving, always using hand gestures, and full of energy. “What you see is what you get, no matter what time of day, no matter what day of the week,” Tony Oneal replied when asked about his boundless energy.

He was asked, “You always seem happy, or full of energy. How’s come?” He replied with a haha laugh, and said, “Coffee! I see too many people depressed and unhappy with life, and I don’t want to be them.” He said this while he sipped some pure black coffee --wearing a hunter green women’s vest. Just one more way he is “out there!”
When I walk into his classroom after lunch, his lights are always half-on and I’m always thinking, “What am I in for today? Another hit on thee head with a pen. Or his yard stick that always seems to follows him around everywhere?” When those lights flicker all the way on, we know that practically bald head with the gray stubble in various places is about to make an entrance. I know “One-al” is in the house, and our crazy math class has begun.

Everyone has a bad day every once in a while. Oneal doesn’t let this affect him though. When asked about a day starting out badly and its effect on the rest of his day, he practically screamed his response, “Nope! I try to move on. I’m not the one to hold a grudge. I usually get over my bad moods in five to ten minutes.” And I believe that. I have never seen him hold onto a bad mood—even when students do something stupid.
“Why did you choose to become a teacher,” was a question that I asked him that I have always been curious about? He replied (while looking around thee room and stopping at Mitchell), “I like being around people and kids (some).” He finished with his sarcastic, echoing “Haha.” I asked him how does his positive energy affect him at work.” He said that his positive outlook makes people who don’t want to come to math want to come to math just because he’s so freaking funny! And the other teachers on his team would agree. Amy Norton, the language arts teacher on his team said, “He makes coming to work fun and meetings bearable. His sense of humor makes him one of my favorite people at DMS.”
I also knew that he was a coach for many years and asked him about his experiences in that role, “You were a coach for many years, did your energy always carry over to practice?” He replied, “Yes, nine years for swimming and 12 years for baseball. My energy and drive were what kept my teams going.”
That energy and positive attitude do not stop when he leaves school. “It’s the same all the time. Wal Mart, B-dubs, basketball games. What you see is what you get. And after hearing about his “famous Scotcha-roos, I got a tap on the head with his red ball point pen. .” He cooks and bakes and cleans at home. He is an early riser, and I know that he arrives no later than 6 o’clock some mornings just to get a prime tail-gaiting spot for his precious Boilermaker football. I just don’t see how he has all that energy. So I took charge and asked him about what motivated him to get up early just to get a good spot for the game. He replied after a sip of coffee, “Some coffee, well some black coffee of course. I also get to spend two hours of alone time with my dad.”

“What’s changed the most in your lifetime?” He contemplated a bit, and then concluded with a questioning look on his face, “My emotional state. I’m not the person to break down and cry. But I can see scenes on TV that I will cry over.” He was asked, “What or who, makes you the person you are today. And why?” He instantly yelled, “My dad. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted to be in life. He’s my role model, and I can never live up to him.” There was no hesitation and the look on his face was so serious that I knew he really meant it.
“What is one tip you have for anyone in life?” He looked around the room for a minute and said, “Keep trying, no matter how hard life gets. Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll be successful.” This bundle full of energy, positive thinker, and amazing teacher had some wise advice about important life skills: “Humor. I’m not the type to be the class clown, or a stand up comedian, but I like to have fun.” And fun mixed with his positive energy is what he is and what he makes math for his students.





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