(This isn’t really related to DNS in any way.)
My wife just called me to let me know that my son’s math teacher died suddenly last night, apparently of a heart attack. This was my son’s second year in his class: he had him last year for algebra and again this year for geometry. By all accounts, he was a tough, uncompromising teacher, with strict rules for homework and conduct, and Walt loved him and thrived in his classes.
I only had the opportunity to meet him a few times, at two back-to-school nights and then just last week, when Walt left his swimming stuff at home and Mr. Acampora and I exchanged a nod when I dropped off Walt’s suit and goggles during first period.
I had my own Mr. Acampora, way back in sixth grade. My friend Mark Irvine and I would walk from our elementary school to Union Junior High every day to take algebra from Mr. Munday. From Walt’s stories, it sounds like the two were cut from the same cloth. Mr. Munday would feign exasperation at our sometime inability to come up with answers, proclaiming them “Mickey Mouse!” Thirty years later, I can still picture him saying it and it still makes me smile.
For years, especially here in California, it’s been the fashion to bemoan the sad state of public schools. In my experience, though – and I don’t discount the notion that my kids have been very lucky in the draw – there are plenty of exceptional teachers in the system, demanding, charming, and cajoling the best from our kids. For Walt, Mrs. Kishi, Ms. Ditty, Mr. Acampora. For me, Mr. Munday, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Martin. I’ll bet you have your own list.
Think of them today, and think of how lucky we are to have had them.