Thursday, August 26, 2010

Harolda and Lenny

When I entered fifth grade, I started the year as the new kid.  Though terribly uncomfortable, I was used to it.  I had entered kindergarten as a student at Rancho Village in Oklahoma City. Midway through the year I transferred to Wayne Elementary where I also attended first grade.  I began second grade at Kingfisher Elementary then moved midyear to finish at Central Elementary in Moore.  Third grade found me starting as the new kid at Northmoore Elementary in Moore where I also finished fourth. Finally, we landed in Wayne again where I eventually completed high school.

Never did I enjoy being the new kid in school, but everywhere I attended there were friends and teachers who helped me assimilate and who instilled in me a lifelong love of learning.  That process continued through college and graduate school.  Teachers like Mrs. Neva Nemechek, Mrs. German, Miss Baker, Mrs. Troyer in elementary, and Mr. Dawson, Mr. Cail, Mrs. Klepper, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Martin, and so many others in high school made a difference in my life.  In college, I was influenced by Dr. Gold, Mrs. Engles, Dr. Eggleton, Mr. Walker, Dr. Norris, Dr. Hazell, Dr. Robinson, Dr. McRory, Dr. Green, Dr. Udell, Dr. Fox, Dr. Sharp, and others.

And this brings me to Harolda and Lenny, my high school English and Math teachers, respectively.  They ended up marrying each other, a merging of Browning and Pascal, of language and algebra.  Harolda guided us through the Scarlet Letter and Great Expectations, Poe and rules of grammar.  Lenny and his long hair taught algebraic formulas and geometry and how to use the sine and cosine tables printed on our desktops (I dreamed one day of a desk with built-in calculators that would have four functions).  She was a cool but demanding teacher. He was as laid back as any person I had ever met to that point in my young life. Both took kids from a rural agricultural community and guided them through their classes with the belief and expectations that we would get it, enjoy it, and that their subjects were worth knowing. 

I've often wondered where they went after Wayne and how they were doing.  I just received an email from Mrs. Gibson (calling her Harolda still seems so unnaturally familiar), and we've begun catching up.  She had attended OBU's summer academy as a high school student.  Lenny had studied and received his bachelor's degree from OBU. Now that I too am at OBU, I'm reminded of how small the world really is, and I'm thinking of what a difference my teachers made in my life.  I look forward to seeing them in person sometime soon and saying thank you in person for their influence.

Think about those whose lives have intersected yours, about the persons who invested their life in yours.  Chances are you'll think of parents and relatives and friends. But I imagine that the names that spring to mind in greatest numbers are teachers. I'm thankful for the teachers who have invested themselves in me and instilled a love for lifelong learning; I'm thankful for Harolda and Lenny.

I'm just saying....Maybe you ought to make a phone call or write an email or send a card to a Harolda and Lenny who made a difference in your life.

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