Before I was diagnosed with ADHD type 2 (inattentive) halfway through my sophomore year, I struggled with forgetting everyday responsibilities, being completely disorganized, and taking hours to do simple tasks because I would get distracted.
However, it had never affected me enough in school to worry about. That is, until my sophomore year. At one point I was failing three classes, and my best grade was a C+. I had always been an A student, and this feeling of being less than mediocre slowly but surely led me face first into a brick wall of depression.
I wasn’t doing anything differently, but all of a sudden no matter what I did, I was struggling and not succeeding. I hated going to school because it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. The only class I looked forward to was fifth hour U.S. History.
Mr. Reichle, at first, seemed like your average history teacher: some guy sitting on a stool in front of the class in dress pants, a button-up shirt, and a tie. As the first week went on, I remembered more and more about him and what he was teaching through the stories he wove into the lesson. He had two kids (Theodore Roosevelt was nominated as vice president by the rich and wealthy to keep him out of power, but he became president when William McKinley died); they didn’t like getting ready to go in the morning (in the 1920s women went against gender stereotypes in a fight for women’s rights, and it became fashionable for them to have a slight, boyish frame as opposed to the heavy bust and small waist that was popular before); his daughter was scared of the dentist (William McKinley wore a red carnation for good luck, and when he took it off to give to a little girl, he was shot and died eight days later); he grew up in Al Capone’s escape house (Ronald Reagan did stand-up comedy before he went into politics); he had a tie for every day of the school year – he never repeated a single one – and was the most entertaining teacher I’ve ever had.
I remember one dreary November morning, Mr. Reichle was up in front of the class, teaching with gusto, but the class wasn’t returning the enthusiasm Mr. Reichle was accustomed to (which was much more than any other teacher, might I add). Mr. Reichle just wanted to know why the slums of New York were so dirty. It wasn’t a hard question. Finally, he gave up hope of anyone answering and screamed (catching us all off guard): “Poop! Poop is why it was so dirty!” Then in a calm voice he asked us again, and still no one answered. Mr. Reichle walked around the class making raspberry sounds and continued asking. When no one answered after the fourth time (which, can you really blame us? We were all nearly comatose from the shock and hilarity of the situation), Mr. Reichle groaned, walked to the side of the room, and lay face-down on the table, smashing his nose, and sighed. After what seemed like an impossibly long time, he sat up, asked again, and we all chimed out the only word we could muster through the laughter: “Poop!” We never sat quiet while he asked a question again, and we never forgot why the slums were filthy. This is just one example of how Mr. Reichle’s teaching keeps his class enthralled and engaged.
When the time for finals came, everyone I knew was panicking about “The History Final.” At this point, I still hadn’t been diagnosed with the ADHD I’d struggled with for years, and studying for finals was something I knew I had to do. I tried, but it did nothing to help me. I took all of my finals, and the one test where the answers came fairly easily to me was the history final. Every question drew my brain back to a scene from class. Mr. Reichle had kept me so engaged throughout the semester that I could remember nearly every one of his lectures, a feat no other teacher had ever accomplished in my life.
Because of his spectacular teaching, I received an A on my history final – my only A. Mr. Reichle is one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. He was the only teacher to help me work through my ADHD in class and retain the information I needed to know through stories and enthusiasm. He found a way to make the most potentially boring class the one I looked forward to.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.