Old Teacher’s never die.
They live in your memory forever. They were there when you arrived and they were there when you left.
Most teachers, basically taught things we really learned in Kindergarten.
You never really knew them, any more than they knew you.
But I remember one teacher in particular from my days in Junior High in the small town of Oak Harbor, Ohio.
His name…Mr Bernard (Bernie) Lutz. He was an English teacher.
He was hard. He was unfair. He was tough. Too demanding and totally unreasonable. He was on a power trip. He was the equivalent of Oak Harbor’s version of Attila the Hun. He was a “drop down and give me 20 push ups” kind of guy. He smiled on the first and last day of school and NEVER in between. Every student that had a class with him, said the same exact things. He was all of these things or worse.
But most of all…he scared me.
At least that was what I thought at the time. Unfortunately , the perspective of an eighth grader is somewhat tainted by the fact that at that age “everyone” who was an authority figure was considered the enemy. I mean it was the nature of a 14 year old year to dislike that person who was trying to tell you what to do.
The truth is that Mr. Lutz was none of these things.
He was a teacher that “expected” things from his students. He wasn’t going to accept average or below performance from you as a student unless it was indeed your best effort.
More importantly…he was a great teacher who gave me something to take home to think about besides homework.
Sure… he was hard, he was tough and he was demanding. He made mistakes and he definitely was not perfect.
But never unfair, unreasonable or Atilla the Hun.
It has been said that the mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
For now you see…Bernard…Bernie Lutz was the reason I became a teacher. He was my inspiration.
My dream to become a teacher began with a man who believed in me, who tugged, pushed and lead me to the next plateau, sometimes poking me with a sharp stick called “truth.”
Bernie passed away a number of years ago. I never had the opportunity to tell him how much I appreciate what he did for me all those years ago. I’ve learned in teaching that you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work immediately. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years or longer. The harvest for a teacher is seeing the “fruits” of their labor become teachers, lawyers, stock brokers, nurses, preachers, writers, accountants, bankers, managers, entrepreneurs and countless other occupations that make them contributing members of society.
Old teacher’s never die…their legacy lives long past their time here on earth.
Maybe you were lucky, maybe there was a teacher in your past who believed in you. Someone who pushed you to another level. One who expected more from you than just average work or “just getting by”. Someone who you never told how much you appreciate the challenge and inspiration they were in your life.
Tell them today…
I waited too long to tell Bernie while he was alive.
So Bernie…if you can hear me…I can only quote William Shakespeare and say, “I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”