I can remember the first time Mr. Muehls yelled at me in seventh grade. I can’t even remember what I did wrong, but I remember how awful I felt—not because of what I did, but because I lost his respect. So, for the first time in my school career, I decided to apologize. He forgave me and said I should to stay out of trouble. But, for some reason, I knew he was right and I took what he said to heart. And after our talk, he gave me a juice pack and a snack. He told me to go home with a smile. He was the first teacher to actually encourage me with phrases like “stay on track” and “I know you can do better.”
In middle school, kids try to figure themselves out. I, for example, was routy, misbehaving, and slightly sarcastic. I didn’t care about school. But I made a friend in Mr. Muehls at North Shore, and he changed everything.
As a special education teacher, a veteran, and the chess club advisor, Mr. Muehls knew how to work with students in order for them to succeed. Though he was only my homeroom teacher, he helped me excel in more than just my education.
Doing my homework was a struggle. I was annoyed I couldn’t talk or use my phone until my homework was done. But this got me to get my work done. He got me to succeed, and even now, I can still hear his voice in my head saying, “Corrina, put that phone away,” or “Is your homework done yet?”
After 19 years of being a teacher, he must have figured out that laughter is the best way to earn a student’s respect. So, I laughed, and occasionally did my homework, and as a reward for accomplishing our work during class, we got snacks and funny cat videos (a simple work and reward method).
When I finished middle school and went on to high school, I left behind a teacher who truly cared about my friends and me. But I left knowing I could do whatever high school had coming.
It’s been four years since I first met Mr. Muehls, and my friends and I still go back to visit for a couple of hours every few months. While we drink the majority of his juice boxes and eat his mints. He helps us with our homework, and even gives us personal advice when we need it.
Mr. Muehls has always said that my class was one of the kindest, smartest, and most special classes he’s ever had. But, I do not think that he knows that he is by far the kindest, smartest, and most special teacher that I have ever had. Thank you Mr. Muehls, for being an inspiration, and thank you for genuinely caring.