Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Power of a Good Teacher

I was going through my old blog posts today and found this one from over two years ago. I'm not sure why I didn't post it. Maybe I was going to go back and revise it. I ended up forgetting about it. Anyway, I think it's worth posting now, so here it is.

May 20, 2009

Yesterday, I woke up and found myself no longer in Spain, unemployed, with a mountain of laundry to do. After going to an early-morning workshop regarding the paid internship I've been approved for (yay!) I went back home, calmly gathered together all of my dirty clothes--which was ALL of my clothes, basically--and drove the five minutes to the parents' to wash them. it was the one thing of importance left on my agenda to do for the day. That's what happens when you don't have a job, I guess. I got my laundry going, played piano for a while, read, and then, decided to do something I hadn't done in three years: visit Mr. Carpenter.

Mountain View High School is fifteen minutes drive away from home, in good traffic conditions. I chose to go the neighborhood route--which was a bad idea, since every school zone in Orem was flashing and I saw at least three cops and two cars get pulled over. It was a war zone. But, twenty minutes later, I pulled up to the long, white building, parked in Visitor Parking (unnecessary at that time of day) walked past several groups of loud teens who, to my college-conditioned eyes, appeared so young and foreign, and entered the building. I was aware that, six years after the fact, I easily passed for one of them. Only, not nearly as trendy.

I climbed the stairs and entered the social studies hallway. Carpenter's room was the second on the right. it wasn't the same one as when I was there, but when i went in, I saw at a glance that it was arranged exactly the same way. Nothing changed. Carp wasn't there at the moment, so I just stood looking around until he came in. When he walked in, I smiled, held out my hand and said, "Do you remember me?" Of course he did. It didn't take him a second to remember my name.

We talked about everything. We talked about school and history and life in general. In the three years since I'd set foot in the school, I'd gone and come back from Brazil, finished a college degree, and, in short, seen a little bit more of the world. In the three years since I'd been there, his kids had gotten older, his vision had probably gotten worse (though I didn't ask him) and his curriculum was basically the same. "Nothing changes here," I said. "I change, but this," I said, indicating the classroom and the school, "has all stayed the same." Carpenter nodded and said, "Well, the teachers get older and crankier." Somehow, I can't imagine Carpenter ever getting cranky. Older maybe. Never cranky.

I left Mountain View reminded, once again, why Carpenter, of all the teachers and professors I've had, was the most important one. Over the course of my mission, I read and re-read a discourse on 1 Corinthians 13 written by a man who was not of my faith...yet still of my faith. Part of developing the Christlike attribute of Charity, this man says, is--interestingly enough--to believe in people. Nothing influences people more than our belief in them. Mr. Carpenter is in a unique position where he is able to influence a lot of young people for good. I'm glad I got to be one of them.

Has any teacher influenced you for the better?