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First impression—hate. I was an eighth grader with what seemed to be a college professor teaching me algebra. I was not going to survive this class. No talking, no laughing, no fun. That was his policy. Pay attention or bust. End of story. This man that matched his white board markers to his ties was going to make my love and understanding of math spiral down the toilet. I loved math, but I couldn’t stand this man.
I went through the first half of the year frustrated, bored and mad. Math apparently took precedence over everything. I once spent three class periods taking his Chapter 4 Unit Test. I, along with many other students, took three class hours to finish a close to impossible assessment.
Not until I missed over a week and a half of school due to illness did I finally figure out Mr.Blanchard might not be the horrible person I made him out to be. In fact, he turned out to be the most helpful teacher I ever had. When I went in for my lunch period the day I returned to school. I learned that Mr.Blanchard was a compassionate man, one who honestly cared about his students and what they learned.
His hard exterior was impossible to break during class time; he was teaching a high school level course, in the time allotted for a middle school math class, which was difficult to do. Other students had told me this before, but I didn’t believe them until I experienced it for myself.
Although Mr.Blanchard’s assessments were difficult, and homework was time-consuming, there was never a question as to if he was a good teacher or not. I always felt the need to know more, as I walked out of his fifth hour class. And the more I understood, the more I realized I enjoyed math even more than when I walked in on my first day.
At the end of the year, I learned to see Mr.Blanchard as a person, and even as a friend. While he found math to be an important thing—that students need to spend time on, and put effort into—I also learned he understands life can’t be avoided. That year, along with missing school due to illness, I also had a hard time with the loss of a friend to a car crash. Mr.Blanchard told me to take care of myself. He encouraged me to spend time with family and friends, get done what I can, but not to worry about learning math for that week. He would help me catch up when I returned.
While Mr.Blanchard was a hard teacher, he did it for good reasons. I’m not going to sit here and tell you he was the most hilarious teacher at school, or that he gave me extra credit and an easy A. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have learned the important life lessons and values I have yet to learn from any other teacher. Mr.Blanchard knew when to hard and when to give his students some slack. If I hadn’t had him, I don’t believe I would have the work ethic, or the appreciation or understanding of people I have now.





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