Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Loveland Students Make Good: Part Two

AS LOYAL READERS OF MY BLOG already know (and I mean, of course, both of them), I decided to do a post or two about what former students are currently doing in their lives. I keep in touch with as many as I can.

Sometimes I visit them in jail...

Ha, ha. No, seriously, when I hear people say, “What’s wrong with young people today?” I think to myself, “Nothing.”

I should also note that some of my former students no longer classify as “young.”

So here’s Part Two.

Wes Greiwe said he wasn’t sure I’d want to include him because he hadn’t been doing that much since he graduated; but I must disagree. The year I had Mr. Greiwe in class he was one of my favorite students. Wes did in school what all of us should do every day. He made the absolute most of his talents.

I hate it when people say: “He gave 110%.” So, I will say that Wes gave 100% effort every day and that’s the highest any of us can go. 

He explained in a note what he’s doing as a grown up person:
I still have a great work ethic…I know I used to bore my teachers and other kids in class always talking about old cars. I’m involved with old cars more than ever now. I restored my 1968 Chevy Corvair and I’m heavily involved in two local car clubs and hold office in both. I love to volunteer and I do a lot of work with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have a 16-year-old little brother that I’ve been matched with for over 2 years.

I love this picture Wes sent (he’s at left) and I’m willing to say if Mr. G. can help mold this young man, he’s going to turn out just fine.

Wes Greiwe and his little brother.
His Corvair looks like new!

My memory of Brian Pope is of a funny young man who didn’t necessarily have the best grades. I didn’t either as a youth, so I always believed every kid had untapped talents and tried to bring them out. I think Mr. Pope liked school about as much as I did in seventh grade—which wasn’t very much. So, maybe one time he got in trouble in my class.

I’m sure it was never more than that.

He sent me a kind message recently when I asked if former students would like to be included in this kind of post: “Anything for you…It would be an honor, sir! My fondest memories during what could’ve been the toughest part of my childhood were in your classroom. I’m glad you played a role in molding me into the man I am today (including my times spent in the hallway in ‘time out’).”

How, then, is Bryan doing these days? He’s doing great. On Facebook, under “About,” he has a heading called “Keepin’ it Real.” Under that he has: “Integrity. Character. Truth.” I’d call that an excellent standard for living.

I was checking out his photos and saw he worked for Habitat for Humanity down in New Orleans. For a regular job, he fixes helicopters and...flies them. Not bad, Mr. Pope, your talents are clear.

Bryan Pope delivers a bride and groom to the ceremony.

I'm sure you all recognize Bryan.

Gerri Sroka, center rear.

Gerri Sroka was a bubbling fountain of enthusiasm when I had her in my history class. She was a caring, kind individual and from what I can tell she should be perfect for her present tasks in life. Having completed the nursing program at Galen College of Nursing, where she received her Associates Degree, she went on to earn a Bachelors of Science at Grand Canyon University and did a few online courses along the way. She is now a health professional, working as a registered nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Clifton, Ohio.

It’s tough work, she says, but she knows she makes a difference.

She works the night shift on a medical/surgical/detox unit as one of the RN leaders for detox patients. In her spare time she works at Midwest Cheer Elite coaching special needs teams. She’s been involved with that for seven years now.

(I will not mention that Gerri, below, makes me envious because she is still thin.)

Kelly Harris, looking quite dapper.
Michele in yellow, once a star student of mine.

Let’s just say I had Kelly Harris in class a long time ago. (Michele Bigham Harris, his lovely wife is also a former student; but she must be like thirty years younger, or something.)

Kelly wasn’t stacking up A’s and B’s when I met him—but he was one of those guys you could tell could grow into something good and he did.

Here’s how he remembers life in junior high (Loveland became a middle school in 1991, I think) and what he has been doing more recently:
As a junior high student I was pathetic! I did poorly in school, I quit sports, I was always told I day dreamed all the time, even from you! (Later found out ADHD). I barely passed both years. I was the smallest male or female in my grade. I was extremely introverted.

I didn’t come out of my shell until about 17 years old then it was “GAME ON!!!!”
I have no idea how and when it happened or why but something clicked at one point because I can answer almost every question on Jeopardy, I have been self-taught in LEAN manufacturing and World Class manufacturing methods. I have owned 5 different businesses, all did well. I currently own a roofing company and am starting up a hunting and fishing website.
Oh and can we put on your blog I am huge 2nd Amendment supporter????? Just kidding I know, I know, it’s your blog.

Kelly also had a guiding hand in starting up the Miller Brewery in Trenton, Ohio. Well, I think you can tell, Kelly has worked hard and done well and I will keep sending him postings on Facebook until I convince him that Barack Obama is the best president ever.

That might take some time.

Kelly and daughter Morgan spending some quality time together in the woods.
Okay, I'm cheating here. This is Morgan Harris.
(I was never so lucky as to have her in class.)
She's a five-year survivor of cancer,
which means she's tougher than a platoon of Navy Seals.
Throw in a few ninjas and marines. Still tougher!!!

Stephanie Jacob was one of the true unfortunates in Loveland Middle School history—having been stuck in my classes two years in a row. (In a bizarre turn of events, I was shifted out of my seventh grade position before the start of my final year in teaching and moved up to eighth grade.) I remember occasionally reminding Stephanie to push herself; because I knew she had wonderful talents. Her writing, for example, impressed me.

Her cheerful personality was a bonus and in two years of working with Stephanie I don’t think I ever saw her in a bad mood.

What is this young lady up to at present? She explains:
I am now studying Nursing at the University of Cincinnati, although I am switching to Good Samaritan College of Nursing next year. I’m excited to get out of school and start helping people! I had you for 7th and 8th grade (the year you retired). I remember on your last day how we all made a tunnel and chanted your name as you ran through it and left your classroom for the last time. You were the first teacher going through school that I felt treated us like young adults instead of little kids.

Stephanie was easy to treat like a young adult—and I’m willing to bet she’ll be a success as an adult adult, too.

Stephanie thinking:
"What kind of vegetable is this?"

Ms. Jacobs and a certain young man.
They look like a nice young couple.

One of the pleasures of teaching so long in the same place was that you were able to see how many former students turned out—and sometimes have their children come into your class a generation later. This was the case when Toni Gardner showed up on my roster in 2006.

Something about her seemed familiar.

Pleasant demeanor. Yes. Open, frank look. Yes, I’d seen it before. That smile, that hair…and what I later found Toni had…that hard-work ethic.

Angie Baxter Gardner, former student
at the time of this picture;
future student, Toni Gardner, in lap.

Just as I suspected, her mother was a former student (we won’t say from how far back), Angie Baxter Gardner, a star in my class during an era when I wore polyester pants. Angie was super-dependable, even as a teen, and more than one teacher used her to babysit his or her children.

So, you know Angie had to be cool.

Toni was like a Mini-Me version of Mom, but with plenty of character of her own. It was a pleasure to have her in class every day and she filled me in on what she’s up to of late:
I’ve been working at Dewey’s pizza in harpers point for almost 2 years as a hostess, and I’ve recently started to manage and serve a little too, even though I’m not suppose to till I’m 19 but I’ll be 19 in may so almost there. I also have been going to the University of Cincinnati without a major as of right now but I have been applying to nursing schools including Christ college of nursing at Christ hospital and Good Samaritan college at the hospital. I will be working as a day camp counselor this summer along with Dewey's and helping my mom with her conceal and carry classes. Ill actually be taking my conceal and carry on the 6th of April! Really pumped for that!

In other words, two classy ladies—now packing heat.

Toni in show choir at LHS.
Standing one row higher, to the left (in the picture) of the young man at center.

The Gardner Ladies.

It’s too bad I failed to keep better notes on all of my students and all of the great work they did. I’ll mention two young ladies together here and then tell you about them separately and we’ll see what two former star students are up to right now. I had Cam Catalfu in class in 2001 and Andrea Dubell in 2006.

They don’t know each other. But what fantastic work they both did. I used to ask every student to do one project per quarter, or four for the year. You could pick skits, or do creative writing, or art or make models or movies or write poems. Cam did four highly creative projects, that I know, and earned four perfect 100’s. I wish I remembered what they were all about; but trust me, her talents were clear. Andrea was the same kind of quality student. I know she did one amazing project involved puppets…but can’t remember exactly how it was set up. 

Andrea had real character, too. (Cam was the same.)

Both young ladies made the job of a teacher almost embarrassingly easy. So, what are they both up to now?

Let’s check with Cam first:  She attended Wittenberg University first, where she majored in East Asian Studies, then earned a Masters in Japanese Studies at Michigan. Naturally, she decided to put her education to work and it was off to Japan she went. Today she’s living and in Mizunami, Japan. She’s an assistant language instructor and having a great time.

It turns out that Andrea and Cam have something else in common:  an abiding interest in languages. Andrea is currently studying French at Ohio University (and we commend her for her wisdom in choosing to attend that bastion of learning nestled beside the beautiful Hocking River). Last year she was fortunate enough to take a bit of time and travel to France.

Since Ms. Dubell is still in college we cannot know where she is headed five or ten or thirty years from now. Wherever it is, it’s assuredly good. 

At Hikone Castle:  Cam's the one in red hair in case you didn't guess.

My experience was that everything Cam did
was creative and unique.
Andrea Dubell (second from left) in France.

Andrea is also a skilled photographer:  Fort St. Andre, France.

Since teachers hope to aid students along the path to success, it seems fitting to end with this photo (below), taken by Andrea on her trip to France.

The path in life is open. You can go almost any way. 

For teachers, it can be reassuring to know most of your students are going to find their own path; and they are going to do just fine.

1 comment: