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April 28, 2011
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When I think about my time being in social studies class or any other class for that matter, one word comes to my mind, BORING! I would sit and listen to teachers say the same stuff over and over, which never became of any interest to me. The teachers always seemed to just stick to the lesson plan, which I thought was probably verbatim, the script of what we would be taught that year. That was until I came to Mr. O’s 9th grade government class.

First off, I want to give a little background information on Mr. O’Kneski, and his teaching style. He is a little, old, man with glasses and gray hair that is almost gone. It has been said that, as a young man George Washington took a few of Mr. O’s classes. When I came to his class for the first time, I can remember instantly giggling when one of the students in my class asked to use a stapler and he replied saying, “What do I look like Happy Harry Levine?” Most kids took him seriously at first and thought of him as a grumpy old man, but I knew better not to. My grandfather had the same type of cynical humor, and I can remember being scared of him when he would raise his voice only until I realized he was kidding, and that he was just trying to get a reaction out of me.

The way he teaches is by lecturing, and all you have to do is take notes. He puts the lesson on the smart board and goes over everything in great detail, full of examples that you can truly understand. For example, I will never forget what a pro-bono lawyer is. One day in class, Mr. O told us that after he taught a former student what a pro-bono lawyer was, every time that student would pass his room he would stick his head in the classroom and say “Hey Mr. O, PRO-BONO, PRO-BONO!” Also, Mr. O uses shock value sometimes when he taught. For example, when we were learning about Caesar Rodney, Mr. O would describe the cancerous mole he had on his face by getting into a student’s face and saying “Pussing, oozing, dripping, rotten, pulsating, smelly,”, and any other disgusting word he could use to describe the mole. Also, when we were learning about Freedom of Speech rights, he would go near a student while dancing and repeating Freedom of Speech until he invaded their personal space. This little demonstration represented that your Freedom of Speech rights could go only go so far until you violate someone else’s privacy.

Another thing that Mr. O does that separates him from many other teachers is that he genuinely cares about everyone in his class. If you’re grade is down or you’re not handing in homework, he will try and talk to you in private to figure out what the problem is. If he knows you are not doing your best work, he will always try to push you to do your best. Also, Mr. O also always looks out for the kids that are just a little bit weird and unusual. This is a huge quality I think because some other teachers would laugh at these kids in front of the whole class, and this inclines other students to bully them. Mr. O always looks out for these kids and makes sure they are not picked on or bullied, and it really helps students feel as though they fit in.

The last and most important quality I admire about Mr. O is his ability to make learning fun while getting the best out of his students. In his class this year, I believe that I have learned more than in any other social studies class I’ve had, and I take his class more seriously than any of my other classes, though not even on purpose! I don’t know the answer as to why this is. It might just be that the material is very interesting, or it could be that Mr. O just knows how to make class fun. It reminds me of what a former teammate of Major League Baseball pitching great Roger Clemens said. The teammate said that whenever it was Roger’s turn to pitch in the rotation everyone played harder, he said whenever he went out there to pitch it was like the World Series. This applies to Mr. O’s class in a way because whenever I’m in his class I want to try my best.

In conclusion, I want to select Mr. O’Kneski as Educator of the Year because of all teachers that I’ve ever had, he stands out more than any as the best teacher I’ve ever had. He is truly a master of his craft.

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