Sunday, March 24, 2013

Loveland Students Make Good: Part One

IT HIT ME RECENTLY, that if I was going to keep doing my blog about teaching, I should say more about former students. I still keep in touch with as many as I can, as many of my peers in the profession like to do. We go into teaching, after all, because we hope we can help young people develop their talents and succeed in life. It’s fun to see that almost all of them do.

The idea for this post came to me when Mark Brotherton sent me a message via Facebook. He admitted he wasn’t always the hardest-working student—and I reminded him I wasn’t much of a student either when I was young. But here’s what stood out. Mark thanked me for what I had done and mentioned how proud he was to have raised three fine sons.

I thought that said all that needed to be said of any father and the kind of man Mr. Brotherton had become.

Mark still looks as thin as he did  more than 30 years ago.
(I wish I could say the same.)

Lindsay Elizabeth just happened to “friend” me on Facebook while I was working on this idea; so she gets included quick. She’s an art teacher now and doesn’t use her last name on Facebook; so I won’t use it either. I will mention that I had her in class, probably in seventh grade, in 1995 or 1996.

She was “funny and hard-working” according to brief notes I kept about students, a practice I started  around that time. (I wish I had kept better records in the early years because teachers do forget.) Now she’s making a difference in her own inimitable way. Having Lindsay in class (and the same was true of her brother and sister) made my job easier, but I appreciate her saying that I had something to do with inspiring her to go into the profession. 

The note (below) says a lot about how much teachers like Lindsay make an impact on young minds.

Lindsay Elizabeth (left) demonstrates
her way with kids.

Jonathan Davis.

Jonathan Davis (above) was in my seventh bell class my final year of teaching. What I noticed was that any time a question of right and wrong came up (as such questions often do in discussing human history), I knew Mr. Davis would take a strong stand for the right.

He also helped me get a young veteran, named Seth Judy, to come to school and talk about the time he spent in combat in Iraq. (It might not look like it from this picture—since he looks kind of like Satan—but Jonathan has the sort of strong Christian values I admire…even though I’m pretty much a non-church goer myself.) 

I figure Mr. D., now attending Bob Jones College, is going to leave a positive mark on the world once he’s out of school.

Proof that Jonathan isn't just painting himself in college.
He's in the foreground, with glasses,
behind the student with a green shirt.

Deana Callahan a few years back.

Deana Callahan Wilisch (pictured above) found herself seated in my class in 1982. Now she’s a proud mother determined to raise her three daughters right: Kelsey, 15, Jessica, 11, and Kenzie, 9. Anyone who can raise good kids has my respect. I used to ask students to do 1000-word interviews with someone over the age of sixty (sounded old to me back then). Deana did a great report on her grandfather and I still remember how hard he said he had to work as a boy. 

You can kind of tell from the picture, Deana was a nice young lady to have in class, and she was kind not to kill me, even when I kept calling her “Deanna.”

And I’m still sorry that boy pulled her bra strap.

Deana and her girls, with husband.

Trinity Campbell with mom and dad.
Daughter of Davin and Jilian Partin Campbell.

Jilian with the ball. Mr. Miller trailing behind.
And who is that guy in blue shorts playing defense?

Jilian Campbell (seen above and once feared on hardwoods all over Cincinnati when she played under the name “Partin”) was in my history class in 2000. I thought at that time, and still think today, that she was one of the hardest-working kids I ever saw come through my door.

Jilian wrote to tell me what she’s been up to:
Davin is my husband, Trinity is my daughter and she’s 19 months old. I am a family support specialist at The Next Door’s Freedom Recovery Community, a non-profit serving women and their children overcoming addiction here in Nashville. We are permanent housing for up to 20 families with on-site supportive services. I came to this job in November after working 3 years at juvenile court as a probation officer.
I’m assuming (safely, I think), that Jilian is working hard at her new job.

The Vargo sisters:  Mandi, left, Abby, middle (I think I had her in class, too,
and Molly right (I believe she had Mr. Sharpless).
I often mix up sets of brothers and sisters in my mind. Curses!
Matt Vargo was also cool.

Mandi Vargo (pictured above), was another student in my class who stood out because she always wanted to do right. Hard worker. Lively and enthusiastic.

She got into education by way of a program called “Teach for America.” Today she does chemistry and physics for a Louisiana charter school. Most students come from poor homes, 93% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and almost all are minorities. So Mandi has to work a little harder to help—and that is what she does. She sent me a great email recently and described the course she’s been on for the last four years. “I realized early into that first year [in the classroom] that, not only did I have a knack for teaching, I truly enjoyed it.”

Mandi explained how she goes about her business:
Being a tiny white woman from the North who looks about the age of my students on a good day does not garner much respect based on physicality. I however, have (and have always had) one of the most productive and well behaved classrooms on campus. Why? Because I treat my kids like young adults, I allow them to earn freedoms by showing me that I can trust them, and I never ever bullshit them…Despite race, religion, income, or education level, every person craves respect and that can go a long way in the classroom and in building skills and confidence for life after high school.

If that isn’t what a teacher should be thinking, I’m dreaming. Mandi added, “Give me 4 walls and some kids and I promise you, learning will happen.”

Mandi, lower left. I think this is in her school.

Katelyn Altieri.

I remember having Katelyn (seen above, left) in class for several reasons. Not that she talked much—oh, no, no, not Katelyn. Mums the word with Katelyn.

Okay: Seriously, Ms. Altieri had a wonderful sense of humor and students who could make me laugh always made my job enjoyable. I also remember the day she did an oral book report on Night, Elie Weisel’s classic account of survival in a Nazi concentration when he was a teen. When Katelyn started telling about the book she wasn't smiling.

She was crying.

Now she sends me an instant message and tells me she’s a student “at northern Kentucky university for BFA Musical theatre. I was in the Main Stage show Legally Blonde. I was Galena (a delta nu) I am highly active in a sorority called Theta Phi Alpha, which is the singing sorority.”

I told her I thought she’d make a real contribution in years to come. She responded:
I’m trying my best. I really wanna head to New York when i graduate and audition like crazy and then have my own academy where kids can come and learn everything they need to know about musical theatre. dance singing. construction. costumes. all that jazz and put on a show too! and yes sir i did [read Night]. to this day i still love that book.

Brian Gorman.

Brian Gorman walked into my class a decade ago—and what I noticed as the year went by was his work kept improving. I always believed that was the mark any of us ought to be aiming for. A nice young man, always. Now, he’s working at Disney World down in Orlando. Based on his photo, I believe he’s dating Cinderella. (Brian above, left.)

On Facebook he describes himself: “I am currently fulfilling one of my biggest dreams. With the help and support of my family and friends, I moved down to Orlando, Florida to continue work with Walt Disney World as a lifeguard. I love my job and I love to make people happy. I couldn’t ask for anything else at the moment!”

You can kind of tell why he was a good young man to have in class just by reading that statement.

Wait a minute! That's Bryan but not Cinderella!!!
(This could be an episode on "Cheaters.")

Phil McDaniel.

I had Phil McDaniel for American history back in 1999. You never had a dull moment with Mr. McDaniel around. He liked history and he had a quip for every occasion. He was musically inclined, as well, and later joined the United States Marines. 

The Marines let him play with guns (see above).

Looking for something to add about Phil, I checked his “favorite quotes” section on Facebook and had to smile. As always, when I had the young man in class, I got a laugh. One favorite of Phil’s choices: 

“I’m gonna pistol whip the next one who says shenanigans.” 

(And, yes, Phil, like an old teacher, I corrected the spelling on that last word. Phil can be seen below. I’m sure you recognize him in red.)

1 comment:

  1. If any of my former students read this, I hope there are no scuzz bag advertisements here. This month my blog has had more than 20,000 views; but at least 500 are idiots trying to put up links to their stupid sales sites.

    Some are, how shall we say, "inappropriate."