Irony of a Tough Teacher

March 18, 2010
By BrianR. BRONZE, Lakeville, Connecticut
BrianR. BRONZE, Lakeville, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

He definitely was not the most popular teacher in school. Nor was he the greatest looking guy. Everyone seemed to despise his subject. Whenever I sat in his Biology honors class, those dreadful forty minutes could not seem to go any slower. Some of my friends even called him nuts sometimes. Yet, he was a true teacher. He probably has taught me more about life than anyone at the school, even more than the teachers that my peers seemed to favor. How ironic.

One day, he came into the class on the verge of tears. Nobody said anything. Considering that we barely spoke the entire class, it was not an eccentric day. But this jacked-up guy about to cry in front of a ninth-grade class? Mind you, this man was the head coach of the varsity wrestling team and coached football and lacrosse. He was probably in better shape than anyone at an all-guys school despite his age. Then, seeing this guy made me feel bad that day. Apparently, someone had written “Bio sucks!” and other abominable anonymous messages on the board the day before. He grievously explained that he was hurt. Plus, this was the man that always pumped us up for our lacrosse game the year before. Surprisingly, that day, I learned that even a brave die-hard guy could have soft emotions sometimes and crying was okay.

I probably haven’t caught on to all his messages to me even throughout the year. He was not the type to answer your questions or even tell you something when an error was made. It was frustrating. The greatest thing I learned from him that someone can’t answer all your questions for you. One day, I walked into the class for an extra help session for Biology. I inquired him regarding the day’s class notes, since he usually talked really fast. He didn’t seem to hear my words, but left the room silently and came back with about six or seven textbooks and set them right in front of me. Then he moved on to the next person. Of course, I was astonished! I was even close to fiery anger! When I gave him the are-you-kidding-me look, he calmly looked back at me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I told him that I asked a question, not for gigantic college-level textbooks that would take weeks to read. He continued with his tranquility and explained that the answer was in those books. I sighed with a burning passion to just leave, but I needed the information to take the next text. And yes, it took a long time to find the answer, but more importantly, he taught me more than the answer itself.

That last anecdote makes him look careless, but his heart was definitely not something that went by unnoticed. He cared for his students. Although it was usually shown in some crazy-wacko way, in the end, it always paid off with greater lessons and feelings. I recollect one of my worst days at the school: awful grades from most of my returned tests, I was late to breakfast, and things weren’t going so well. It made me feel like I wanted to run out in middle of winter and keep running forever so that nobody could find me. After he handed me back the worst grade I got all day, he probably noticed my antagonism and frustration. With a worried face, he asked me “What’s wrong?” (something he asked a lot in class and out of class) When I didn’t want to talk, I just told him that I’ve just been having a bad day. But he pressed on. Unlike normal teachers, he somehow squeezed it out of me and magically, my frustration evaporated away. After that day, he supported me by suggesting me to come to extra help sessions at night and even until the last week of school, I continued to receive his aid. Even today, my academic success should partly be credited to his advising.

I guess I never had one of those once-in-a-lifetime special teacher-student moments with Mr. K. Looking back, the lessons he taught me and the kindness he offered during that year is incredible. I still remember his repeated adage in lacrosse: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I still remember the day he invited me to his apartment at 2 o’clock in the morning because the fire alarm went off in my room during a freezing winter school night and I couldn’t go back in. He even fixed the alarm while I waited in his warm living room. I still remember those weeks when we did the school’s dishes together in the messy kitchen. He offered me so much and I continue to go through high school recalling his memorable values and applying them into my everyday life.

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