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David Lee: World History Teacher & Coach • John Dickinson High This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Would it sound crazy if I said my World History teacher bangs his head on his metal file cabinet? Is it insane if his students are allowed to write down whatever they don't like about him on sticky notes and post them to his classroom door to be read in front of the class? And that doesn't even scratch the surface of his out-of-the-box approach! Ever hear about paying a teacher for good grades?

Although David Lee's methods are unorthodox, his students learn. While he added to the many dents on the cabinet from previous years, I learned what happens when emotions get the best of you. I'll never forget that day when students were writing disrespectful comments and rude suggestions for Mr. Lee. Then I realized that the King of France also allowed his people to post complaints, even though he did nothing about them. When thinking about paying for good grades, your first thought might be, This is the best thing I have ever heard of since sliced bread, but in the back of your mind, you're also thinking, This isn't right. This lesson taught me that through unethical practices of papal indulgences, the church had too much power. Likewise, Mr. Lee tried to get away with students paying for grades.

The first words that usually come to a student's mind when someone says Mr. Lee's name are short, Asian, and bald. That's just on the surface, of course, if you don't know the real Mr. Lee. Ask a teacher and he/she might say “dedicated, passionate, talkative, and inspiring.” Now if you were to ask a student who had Mr. Lee as a coach or teacher, he/she would say “very talkative, too tough, really strict, pretty funny, and kind of different.” Mr. Lee is known by every student and teacher at Dickinson High school. He's everywhere. He even has a ring of keys that can open any door in school.

Mr. Lee is a man you can depend on for anything. If a student tells him, “I don't understand this,” he will spend half the class to get his point across to that individual in a unique way. If a teacher goes to Mr. Lee and asks for something, he does it immediately.

Mr. Lee isn't your average teacher. For one thing, I don't think he ever sits at his desk while teaching. He never misses a day of school for personal reasons. He is so unbelievably dedicated to his students. You don't often find teachers like him who are the first in the building in the morning and the last out every single day. He's always available after school for help. Mr. Lee has been working at John Dickinson High School for 17 years, and with every year he grows as a teacher, coach, and individual.

Mr. Lee doesn't just promote positive behaviors in the classroom. He is involved with several charities. Not only does he go out of his way to give back, but he does the little things that touch hearts as well. After being tested for my third degree black belt, I knew I wanted my friends and family at my evaluation. This included Mr. Lee. When he came for my promotion, he really touched my heart. I almost felt like he was watching me like a father figure.

Inside the classroom and outside of school, Mr. Lee's endeavors are endless. Throughout Mr. Lee's years he has coached track and girls and boys volleyball. As a volleyball player, I can definitely agree with those who say that if Mr. Lee coached all our sports, we would finally have winning teams.

I first learned about Mr. Lee before my freshman year during summer ­volleyball conditioning. I heard scary stories about how tough he was and how much he yelled. I figured playing volleyball wouldn't be fun and games ­anymore. However, the rumors were completely wrong. As a coach, Mr. Lee will always stand by a player. When all hope is lost, he can somehow reach into your heart and give you the strength to keep going, whether it's running a mile for conditioning or getting 100 serves in a row. Mr. Lee is always trying to improve a your ability as an athlete and an individual. He never loses faith in anyone, even after they've had an awful game.

I'll never forget my last volleyball game last season. We were fighting for a spot in the championship playoffs, and our team's fate weighed on this game. We were losing by a few points and all the girls were ready to throw their life onto that court just to stop the ball from hitting the ground. The fans were on their feet screaming and jumping. Adrenaline rushed through every vein in my body. This was it: our last chance. After watching points add up for the other team, I was beginning to be discouraged, and then I turned to Mr. Lee who was on his feet leaping with encouragement. He was cheering us on through every bump, set, and spike. Unfortunately we did lose that game, but I was proud of us all.

After the game Mr. Lee called us into a hallway, and we expected screaming and yelling. But there was no lecture about what we did wrong, just total silence. I could see tears welling in his eyes, along with most of us, but we held our heads high. Mr. Lee told us how proud we made him and how much this team had meant to him. We left the gymnasium with smiles, enthusiasm, and excitement. Inside, we felt like winners. Not many coaches have the ability to make every athlete feel that way, even after losing a big game.

Luckily I still have Mr. Lee as my volleyball coach for my senior year. He has really touched my heart and helped me grow as a person and an athlete. Mr. Lee has not only been a great teacher and coach, but he has become like my second dad. I will always remember Mr. Lee, even after graduation.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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