Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Thursday Thank You Notes
Dear Mr. Packett,
When you are a high school teacher the crowds of students over decades of time must run through your memory like one huge blur.
I'm sure a few stand out for being exceptional. Exceptionally bad. Exceptionally brilliant. Downright ridiculous.
But students have it the other way. We get a handful of teachers and so they all matter. We remember them for being encouraging, mind-numbing, bumbling, inspiring or downright ridiculous.
I want to thank you today for being a teacher who was memorable in every way.
I loved your stories. I loved your knowledge. I loved the people we learned about.
I have a theory. I think historians are the voyeurs of the world. They want to know everything. Eavesdrop on every moment and conversation.
I know I got lazy in high school. A little sloppy. A lot distracted. But not in your class.
I went on to Missouri State University and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in History. I poured myself into every paper. I tortured myself over research. When a professor said it wasn't good enough I would rewrite it just for myself. Just to teach myself how. I was offered a full scholarship for a Master's in History. I turned it down. My bushy eyed professor literally growled at me when I said I was starting a family instead. He could not believe that anything could be as important as education.
But I learned a trick from being a student of history - it is not about the degrees or the papers.
It's about the people. It's about the blood and the whispered prayers and the bad weather and the bland food and the toothaches and canker and the laughter and the sound of their voices. I wasn't studying a discipline. I was finding humanity. In all its forms. And I didn't want to just study it. I wanted to be a part of it. And so I went and lived my life and brought a couple more people into this world.
And sometimes I think of you and your battle ax in the desk and I smile. You knew the secret to history all along. I just wanted you to know that you passed it on.
And sometimes I think of you brewing your own mead. And I still laugh about that.
And lastly, thank you for never screaming at me and throwing my books across the room. I might have dropped dead in my chair.
And that would have been one for the history books.
Thank you for your years of expertise and passion.
Thank you for helping to shape my dream of becoming a high school history teacher.
On bad days of diaper changing or ear infections I've imagined my future lesson plans.
I wonder how I can work in a battle ax....