My high school, ten year reunion is fixing to take place, although its a few years late because of Covid some of my past classmates have been working extremely hard to get it planned and organized for this month. Considering we had such a big graduating class I don’t think that was a small task. While I don’t plan on going I did decide to take a look at the chart that showed all of our classmates and teachers and showed who was going, who they haven’t heard from, who was not coming(I was on that list) and then those that had passed. While I had know of a few, I was surprised to see my favorite teacher was on the passed away list. When I pulled up his obituary I found that he had just passed this year and it made me think of all of the lives he must have touched while he was teaching.
I have been extremely blessed to have had some amazing teachers throughout my life. I went to some great schools in a top district and was amazed at the dedication of my teachers especially when I went on to junior college. However, I had one teacher that I believe I can give credit to as being not only my favorite teacher but in helping to keep my love for literature and writing to, and that’s Mr. Weller.
Mr. Weller was not your conventional teacher. He rode a Harley motorcycle, didn’t have any desks in his classroom but instead had office chairs that were arranged in a circle around the room. Many that didn’t know him thought that he was one of the mean teachers as he didn’t put up with much goofing around and was pretty strict. I will never forget my junior year when right before our class the seniors had deployed their senior prank, dumping tons and tons of glitter everywhere! Mr. Weller being a bald man had just put lotion on his head and when walking down the hall was sprinkled with a load of glitter from the second story. He walked into the classroom fuming mad and unable to get his head from being completely covered in glitter. More than anything though Mr. Weller cared about his students and went above and beyond to not only help them learn about literature and writing but to also enjoy it and get set up for our future.
My first experience with Mr. Weller was my freshman year. Being someone that loved reading and sort of liked writing stories I went into his class having an extreme dislike for “Language Arts.” While I love books and story telling and I had, had good teachers I was stuck with reading books that I didn’t enjoy and then hating to write anything because, grammar and punctuation are my biggest enemies. Mr. Weller taught a freshman regular Language Arts class and then the AP classes which I always thought were completely out of the question for me. While in Mr. Wellers class that freshman year we read all of the required books, but we also read some of his picks for us that were fun books to read like “Water for Elephants” and we spent a lot of time writing. We worked on grammar and punctuation but that wasn’t all that we focused on and I really enjoyed his class. It was the first time I would go into a English class and not dread it.
Then came parent teacher conferences and told me that he really wanted to talk to my parents. I introduced them with the expectation that he was going to tell my parents that I was hopeless when it came to English class and that I was going to fail. When instead he told my parents that we should consider having me take the AP class, because I was ready for the class and it would set me up with college credit, I was completely shocked. We ended up doing it and while I still struggled (and continue to) with grammar and punctuation I worked hard and was rewarded with college credit and a renewed loved of reading and writing.
While we read the all of the classics, Mr. Weller worked hard to add books to our reading list that were something that would be interesting to us. I remember reading “All the Pretty Horses” and one of his favorites “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” along with others that were so enjoyable to read that it wasn’t hard to get the extra homework done. When it came to poetry and we had to recite a poem that was over a minute, I was able to do Baxter Black’s “Cowboy is His Name.” We would discuss the classics like “Old Man and the Sea” and “Of Mice and Men” sitting in a big circle on our office chairs made the boring classics a lot easier to get through.
I will always be grateful for Mr. Weller for believing in me and fanning the spark for reading and writing back to a full fire. I left his class with not only my AP credit but also credit from the University of Denver and didn’t have to take English classes in college. But most importantly, I left with a belief in myself that although my grammar and punctuation might not be perfect, I should still write and tell my story. I got extremely lucky that out of a huge class my teacher took the time to see what each of his students needed.
While I am grateful for all of my teachers, I think that their are definitely some that just come to work and then their are some that go above and beyond because not only do they love their students they also love what they are teaching.
I am pretty sure that if he would read my blog he would find a lot of things to fix but, I also think that he would be pretty proud of me for continuing to write. I think overall, he would have enjoyed it and at least given me a B. I also think he would be extremely proud of the large amount of books that I read with a huge variety of genres.
I hope that you were as lucky as me to have had some great teachers and that hopefully you can look back at that one really special teacher that inspired you. If their still around, I hope that you take a minute to send them a message and thank them!
I’m off to find a copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” to reread!