I have long since learned that most people like, dare I say love, to be appreciated. Sometimes a simple “thank you” will suffice while other times a bigger gesture is needed. Today I put the fingers to the keys to do just that, a big gesture. It is really the only way I can send thanks, out into the universe, to a favorite teacher now gone but never forgotten.
A few weeks ago I broke out the old high school memory book, I was in search of a journal and found the memory book during the process. Flipping through it’s pages was a fun walk down memory lane. I even pulled out a few images that will be fun to share in #throwback posts. As I looked through the book I was reminded of a few special teachers which include my high school Spanish Teacher GAR, an educator who lived his calling and put his whole heart into the work!
As I continued to peruse the book I absorbed images, words of congratulations, and poured over some of our shared experiences. Feeling very happy to have known them and hopeful that they would appreciate the educator I have become. Then I closed the book, put it away and got back to the business of life.
However, today I received an email, from a close high school friend, containing a letter that GAR had written to our class at the end of our Sophomore year, included below. GAR was known for his tough love. He was the personification of strict. For a wet behind the ears teenager who had always been the smart teachers pet, I could not stand him at first. But as time moved forward I grew fond of his individual quirks. I begin to value the characteristics that made him an awesome teacher- supportive and encouraging, while also being straight-forward, honest, and quick to put you in your place!
In true GAR form the letter was very poignant. I could hear his voice as I read. I recalled the countless lessons he taught. It was exactly the encouragement I needed on a day that I was feeling a little discouraged. And while I may not be fluent in Spanish today, I can remember countless words and phrases he taught us. Sometimes I can even hear him singing “Feliz Cumpleanos” or “Tengo una vaca lechera” and see him shaking his maracas.
GAR will forever be a phenomenal teacher. Each of his students can remember exactly what he wore to school from the first day to the last- because he wore the same (clean of course) white shirt, red and black vest, and black pants every single day! He put on a uniform to take the focus off of what to wear and instead put it on what he taught. As a role model, his self-imposed uniform showcased that the wrapping is only a distraction from the gift inside.
While the wrapping matters to the giver, the receiver will only notice if s(he) is not focused on, or impressed by, the gift inside.
It leaves you thinking… if you take away your own pretty wrapping (clothes, titles, outward identities)- will you be happy with what is left on the inside (morals, values, beliefs, knowledge, intellect)?
From the way he dressed to the phrases he used- GAR had a unique way of imparting lessons that stay with you. I, like many others, am forever grateful for the time I spent with GAR at HHS in room 108.