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The Compassion of One Teacher

"I can't do this. I don't get it" Was often a statement believed by me, put away by Mr. Gumke. Such a teacher was he, sitting there patiently trying to teach me algebra when clearly, me and the subject were on opposite ends of the spectrum. Two foes in a locked room. Two hand cuffed together with no key to separate us.

But that changed because of Mr. Gumke. One lone teacher compassionate enough to care about grades long forsaken, putting in long hours with ninth graders who to put it plainly could care less about which way a parable should end up. To most of us it was either a big smiley face or a big F indicating another failed paper. And angry phone calls from parents who thought surely their child wasn't to blame for failing grades. And still the Algebra teacher, David Gumke, pursued even when we begged him to stop. Or else gazed out the window longing to be some where else. I'm not going to lie to you many a times, I fazed out during one of his lectures about why we need algebra in our lives.
I mean who really cares? And even when most of us would be caught like a deer in the headlights, never were we scorned for our lack of interest instead, a joke was made, some laughter and the answer discovered by the few who knew the answer.

If there was a problem with a select few students who bullied the kids on the unfortunate side of understanding the homework, Mr. Gumke killed it quickly.

Infact, I being one of the students who was more of a deer in the headlights for my lack of understanding, was bullied every day. I never said anything about it sitting in front of the class with remarks being said, I became quieter.

With the end of the nine weeks approaching, my Algebra grade was closer to arctic degrees, than safe waters colleges prefer. Becoming concerned, Mr. Gumke called my father in, and me the next day. Asking why I stopped answering any questions I admitted the truth that a few of the kids were saying things such as, "Who said that? Oh Mary go figure." Or "She's so retarded why is she even in this class?" Mr. Gumke killed the comments quickly and admitted the names to the principal. Not only stopping the bullying, but boosting my confidence.
Mr. Gumke also made more time for me after school. There could be track practice and he'd find a substitute to fill in for his absence. In the morning, or after a hard test that not even studying could help, he allowed me to retake it no matter the day and, without a limit some would have. Even during the test, Mr. Gumke would allow me to ask him questions or come over to me and show me where I went wrong so that I could fix my answer and get a better score then before. And that was not only one test mind you but, everyone of them that he felt I could do better on. He boosted my confidence and made going to school less of a burden.

Infact, by the end of the year, my algebra grade was in the range it was supposed to be because of one lone teacher, who not only cared when we didn't want to, but cared even more about a student who didn't think she could do anything in Algebra. So by the end of the year, "I can't do this. I don't get this." became, "Oh yeah that makes sense, thank you, Mr. Gumke."

To put it plainly, Mr. Gumke isn't only a teacher, he's a life saver.



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