Teaching s one of those rare occupations that transcends the workday. By any definition, it is more than a job. We may only actually work 10 months a year, but the time spent each day either directly involved with the planning or execution of a lesson cannot be measured. A simple drive to the store offers time for silent evaluation of the previous day’s lesson and even preparation time for the events of tomorrow.
As I look back on my 45 years in the classroom spent in 11 schools while in four counties, I cannot imagine another way I could have lived my life. Taking out my trusted TI-84 calculator, I compute that almost 5,000 young people have entered my classrooms over the years. Thanks to Facebook, I am “friends” with almost 1,00 of them. The joy in seeing their posts of weddings, births, and even their own children’s graduations can not be measures.
The above collage is one of my first summer projects. In the early days of my career, which was prior to the digital camera, senior portraits were a staple for graduation. Students would exchange them and even give them to their teachers. The above collection is hanging on a wall adjacent to my desk. Whenever I need a little motivation, I simply look right.
Back in early days of teaching, I was co-sponsor of the National Honor Society at Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore City. To say I have fond memories of the Lake would be a gross understatement. These find “young students” are now successful adults with children and even grandchildren of their own.
As a young student myself, I attended St. John DeMatha High School outside Washing D.C. While there I was not art of the regular student body. I was a prep! The preps were a small group of young boys who lived in the monastery adjacent to the school. We were studying to be priest, and we led a cloistered live. This meant days filled with study and prayers. Also, girls were not to be seen anywhere, so none of us ever attended a prom. Wile at Lake Clifton, I attended my first prom as a teacher, so I decided to go all out for it.
The classes at the Lake were rather large, but filled with many great young people.
Kanagawa, Japan is a sister-state of Maryland, and they had a program where they would select one teacher a year from Maryland for a work-study program. In the late 80’s I was selected to venture off to Yokohama for year to teach English at various high schools and to study math education in Japanese high schools. One of the schools where I taught was a special education school with children dealing with severe cognitive issues. It was a great experience.
My first teaching assignment for DoDDS was Taegu American School in South Korea. We were on a small army base about 3 hours below Seoul. Daegu was situated in a valley surrounded by mountains. The joy of Korea was only matched by my students. Looking at the ones above it is hard to believe that I see a married couple with two beautiful children, a few army officers, a nurse, and even a couple of teachers.
When I left Korea, I returned to a home of my past on Okinawa. Many years ago as a young army specialist, I was stationed at Torii Station on the west side of the island. My teaching assignment now was Kubasaki High School on the marine base, Camo Foster. The interesting part is that it was at Kubasaki that I took my first three college courses in the evening while at Torri Station. The University of Maryland used Kubasaki as their campus in the evening for their undergrad program.
The young sons and daughters of the marines were a great group of students. Plus the weather was beautiful, and my apartment was on the ocean looking out at the South China Sea.
My first assignment on mainland Japan was Kinnick High School in Yokosuka, which is located just outside Yokohama. Yokosuka is the home of the largest naval base in the pacific, and the sailors and the marines there were fantastic. One aspect of the lives of the students that teachers had to understand is that the active-duty parents of the students were basically away from home half of each year. The mood of the students often reflected this change. Oh, one of my young algebra students above is now getting her PhD in neuropsychology.