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Educator of the Year: Mr. Lingenfelter

Have you ever seen one of those movies about the inspirational teachers? And as your watching it you can’t help but think “This has to be made up!”? And the reason you think that is because you have never seen a teacher so inspirational, that you have to believe its some Hollywood manufactured story. Well, I know a teachers who is as real as you and I. A teacher who never had a movie, but is so inspiring you think he’s a star. The teacher I’m describing is Robert Lingenfelter, aka Mr. L. Mr. L is the most inspiring teacher I have ever had, and will ever have. He is one of my favorite teachers, greatest mentors, and biggest heroes. I wish everyday, like most of his students, to be back in his class.

Since sixth grade I had heard stories about Mr. L, but I never got to experience them until my year with him in eighth grade. The first day I walked into his classroom, I was amazed at all the stuff on his walls. Posters of political figures and historical events, cardboard cutouts of President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Former President Bush-Pictures of his with political figures like Tom Carper, a mural of the World Trade Center next to the “Jay Cheeseman Learning Center”. But I think what amazed me most was the Judges stand that he had built, and actually used during classes. My expectations where set high when ii walked into his class, and Mr. L exceeded them. Mr. L told us he never, or rarely, used textbooks. He lectures a lot and related stories of his life to what we were learning in class. He told us how he came off the streets, which amazed me that he would share that, but showed me that he was comfortable enough with us to reveal that piece of information about himself.

As the year progressed, Mr. L never let me down. Not only did he inspire me, and teach me, but he inspired every student who walked into his classroom. Whether it was his normal classes, his ping pong club, or a form alumni who would come by to say hi, he inspired them all, and kept them all close. Mr. L was more than an ordinary teacher, or even more then a mentor, he was a father figure, even to those who already had fathers. He was like Dad #2. The reason for his fatherly instincts, I believe, is because he never had his own kids, so he shaped his students like he would shape his own kids, teaching us right from wrong, and showing us how to be productive in life and how to succeed. Mr. L would always say “There’s room on the Mountaintop,” and even had a mural on his ceiling devoted to that saying. When he said there was room on the mountaintop, he was saying there is room for all of us to be successful. Whether it was in school, or in future. According to him, there was always room.

Mr. L has won Teacher of the Year so many times that I cant recall, but I can say he deserves it. He deserves every award, and every thank you, and every visit from every former student. Mr. L is the one person who will teach you about history, and teach you about life. He wants your opinions on historical events, like the JFK assassination or what have you. Mr. L wasn’t just inspiring, he was inspired. He was inspired by his teacher Jay Cheeseman, to whom he devoted a whole piece of room to, and dubbed it “The Jay Cheeseman Learning Center” filled with objects from his old classroom. He was inspired by Ryan White, the young boy stricken with AIDS. He even went to Ryan’s funeral and had a picture of Ryan in his classroom. Mr. L was a celebrity among his students, somewhat of an elusive star. Mr. L was close friends with Tom Carper, after Carper had hired him to be his official photographer when Mr. L was working for a Newspaper in his younger days. He was a superhero to us, someone who couldn’t be taken down.

Robert Lingenfelter, aka Mr. L will be held in his students hearts for the rest of their lives, as he will hold each and everyone of them in his heart. Mr. L is the teacher you want in every grade. He’s the guy you want to be when you grow up. He’s the teacher you see movies about. Mr. L has inspired all his students, so much that he has won countless teacher of the year awards. Ask any student, present or past, and ask any teacher or advisor about how much Mr. L is devoted to teaching, and devoted to his students, and they will all tell you he is unrelenting. Mr. L has reached the Mountaintop and wants us all to meet him there, and one day I will meet him there., whether I have to take his time machine or not. Mr. L once said, when asked when he’d retire from teaching, he said he’s be teaching until the day he died. I believe that to be the honest truth. Whether it be in the classroom, or just life lessons to complete strangers and street kids like him, Mr. L will be teaching until the day he dies, and even after he is gone, all of his former students, including me, will remember what he taught us. Robert Lingenfelter is Educator of the Year.





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