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When I was in high school, I had this fantastic teacher. He was actually the choir teacher and I loved him as the director but although I enjoyed his antics while we sang about "The Month of May-ing", the most significant advice he ever gave me was while teaching my Career And Life Management 20 class.
Mr. W was the cool teacher that swore in class and didn't care if the students swore, ate, chewed gum or even played Tetris on the game boy. As long as you were
in class and participated, did the assignments and/or sang your heart out. (Surprisingly, I could do all those things AND get to level 35 in Tetris.) He encouraged us to do our best by being our friend and convincing us that we were worth something.
I tried out for show choir in grade 10 just because some of my friends were trying out. I remember walking with them up to the sixth floor of the tower at the back of my high school and deciding as we stepped out of the stairwell to try out. Very unprepared, I walked into the room, Mr. W and the show choir director (hmmm I don't remember HIS name) gave me some piece of music and asked me to sing, which I did. When I was done, Mr. W turned to his cohort and said "Well, she may not have a spectacular voice but she can sing in tune really well."
This did not ever register as an insult, I was really proud that he liked my ear. I made the cut and then proceeded to drop out of physics to take concert choir. (Not like I would EVER pass physics!)
Other significant memories I have of Mr. W are that when he found out my religion, added a Hymn from our Hymnal to our song list that year, just because he loved the song and he said he had great respect for my church. He was always telling stories of his life, which were always entertaining, could not EVER follow one tangent. He hung out with us at lunch time, in front of his grand piano in the choir room, let us play or played for us while we sang.
But I digress, sorry....
Back to CALM 20...
This class is the mandatory health class for High School students in Alberta. It contains the usual Health type units like sex ed, home budgeting, career selection and personal growth. Every day we were to write in a journal and he would collect them, respond to each one and return them the next day. I never thought about how much work that was for him but I know it made me feel very important to him.
Being at a loss for words one day (yes, me, don't laugh it happens, sometimes) I made a comment in my journal about not liking this journaling. He asked why that evening and I responded saying that I felt that my words were hollow and I could never get my meaning across without the expression of my voice and my hands. He told me "that is what exclamation marks are for!"
I know that doesn't sound like profound advice but it hit me hard "!!" he was such an inspiring teacher that I really wanted to try my best for him. So I took to !!!ing every word I could, or (()) or ....ing, well you get the picture.
It wasn't until later in life, MUCH later, when I had no other outlet than my word processor to yell and scream and rant and vent, that I discovered my silent voice, my writing voice. That is what brought me to blogging, all those !!! (seriously, I have a saved word doc of 7 pages of just !!! And bad words)
I am sure that my words still don't come out right, and maybe my few readers will tell me I am really boring and they have no clue why they keep reading my drivel, but I think Mr. W (if he were still with us) would be proud of me.
Thank you Mr. W, for your words of encouragement and your kindness and your humor! I will never forget you! You helped shape the "me" I am today!