To the hero professors

So, I’m taking U.S. History one and two over the summer at my community college, and the professor is this older white man. Naturally, this is history, and my first assumption walking in to the class is that I’m gonna be stuck listening to this guy drone on for two months of boredom. Great.

Within the first five minutes I knew I was wrong. So, so wrong.

“I don’t want you to be stuck memorizing dates,” he says. “I want you to know the story, the people, the conditions and reactions so that maybe we can all learn from past mistakes.” I was baffled. A history class that doesn’t require you to be able to rattle off dates? Not only that, there’s no homework and we don’t have to read the text book. The only things that are going to be on the test are things that come straight out of his mouth during class. He introduces himself, and proceeds to go around the room and greets every person one at a time. He will do this every day for the rest of the summer one and two semesters.

Then the lecture begins. I say lecture, but it feels more like story time in kindergarten. He begins to speak with such prose and personality that I forget this is a college course. He’s taken something that has so much potential to be mundane and turned it in to a book that I can’t put down. You bibliophiles know what I’m talking about. And then this glorious fucker ends the class in a mid-sentence cliffhanger.

Every class he carries on this way. It feels as if I’m there. Signing the Declaration, fighting against brothers in the Civil War, listening to FDR’s fireside chats, storming the beaches of Normandy… And he remains unbiased. He wants to make sure we see there’s two sides to every story; understand the conditions that lead to those reactions.

We took a test today, a week from our final exam. He goes around the room in his usual affable fashion, but rather than just ask how we’re doing, today he asks if there’s anything he can do for us. Most folks like myself say something along the lines of nothing, or I’m good. This girl next to me jokingly says, “You can buy me a coffee.”

“How much is it?” He asks.

“About five dollars.” She answers.

And without hesitation, this professor, this wonderful man with a love of teaching, and a love of his students, pulls out a fucking twenty dollar bill, hands it to her and just says “Go get your coffee, and bring me the change.” Then continues on his way like it’s nothing.

And it may be nothing. Maybe I’m blowing something small out of proportion. But in a world where it feels as if every class is just dragging you along in the gravel behind it, and the professors seem to just be going through the motions; to see someone actually do something kind and ask nothing in return is so refreshing and uplifting.

I don’t know. Maybe this is just a boring shit post, but I really needed to share my appreciation for this hero of a teacher. A teacher who after over 30 years of teaching is still happy with what he does.

tl;dr: Some teachers leave a long lasting impact on your life; change the way you think, the way you see the world. Appreciate them for what they are. The unsung heroes of a failing education system.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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