Well kids, Teacher Appreciation Week continues. Yesterday I spent time focusing on my favorite teacher from the elementary years. It would make sense, now, to move into my middle school years. But I’m pretty sure that I made it clear yesterday that middle school sucked. I’m of the belief that anyone who didn’t hate middle school is lying to themselves.
So let’s skip middle school and go straight into high school. Today, we’ll focus on Dave Flanagan. I was lucky enough to be his student twice in my years at Patrick Henry High School. As a freshman, he taught me World Geography. During my junior year, I had him for U.S. History.
What makes Mr. Flanagan stand out? Well, he certainly wasn’t as fun as Mrs. Caldwell. Or was he? I mean, you can’t be the same kind of fun in high school as you are in 3rd grade. It’s just not possible. Could you imagine a teacher showing up on the first day of someone’s freshman year of high school and treating them as if they’re still eight years old? It just doesn’t work.
So don’t let the above paragraph make you think that Mr. Flanagan wasn’t a fun teacher. He was definitely quirky and had his own way of making the subjects he taught more fun than your average textbook.
But, while I learned a great deal from him in the two years I had him as a teacher, it’s really not his teaching style that stands out for me. It’s the way he treated me as a student.
Starting out in 9th grade, I kind of had a rough go of it. At this point in time, I was still dealing with anorexia. I had managed to level off and maintain a steady, if not healthy, weight during the end of my middle school career. But the stress of a new school with new pressures and new problems caused me to backslide. This would eventually lead to a seven week stay in a psychiatric hospital.
But while I was still able to attend school with the rest of my class, I remember Mr. Flanagan always being there with a word of encouragement. He knew my situation. He couldn’t “fix” me. But he showed that he genuinely cared for my well being. And I know I wasn’t the only one.
Mr. Flanagan is the kind of teacher you read about when the newspaper publishes articles about the latest Teacher of the Year in your local school district. I don’t know if he was ever awarded that kind of title, but he definitely should have been.
And so, to Dave Flanagan, wherever you may be these days, thank you! You have made a lasting impression on my life and, I have no doubt, on the lives of countless others.