I wasn’t the greatest student in the world. The best description of my academic performance would be “gloriously average”. I showed up most days, kinda sorta did my homework and didn’t get into too much trouble… but the thing I have come to realize over the years is that I really did listen. In spite of my best efforts to the contrary, many of my teachers were at least somewhat successful with me. Many of the things we did in class have stuck with me over the years.. and so have the lessons.
I remember them vividly… as if it was just yesterday.. Mrs. Horner in the 5th grade (making candy to teach us math); Mrs. Trotman in the 6th grade (trying to reign in us rambunctious boys); I did impress her once with my knowledge of “The Ride of Paul Revere” by Longfellow),. The next year we started changing classes for every subject so their ability to influence was diminished somewhat… but still, their influence is with me today. Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Alexander trying to pour some math into my head.. Mrs. Flood and Miss Finch.. still thinking about all of the books I never actually read back then, but now enjoy (and Masterpiece Theatre at Mrs. Floods house), Mrs. Cooper and French class (I still remember most of the French national anthem because of that class); Mrs. Barwick and Mrs. Meekins and all the science stuff…. and then there was James Gray.. MY history teacher… He was that one teacher that I really connected with. I loved his lectures. He brought history to life for me.. that sometimes things happened just as a fluke or by a chance and he taught me that life is always about searching for “X” (that undefinable, indescribable thing in life that makes it all worthwhile… that we know when we see / experience it). I use to go by his house and sit and talk for hours while he carved wooden ducks. I remember him showing me how to tie a tie with a really little knot once… apparently that was cool when he was a teenager.. made me laugh a lot.
In any case, I like to feel their efforts with me weren’t in vain. I have developed a better appreciation for learning over the years and I do owe a lot of it to their efforts….And to you, Mr. Gray, may you rest in peace… the search for my “X” continues….