Today the world lost its best teacher.
In high school I had a few teachers that I really respected. I enjoyed their class and felt like I learned a lot from them all, but I think they are all on the same page with me when I say he was the best.
I remember hearing about him when I was a freshman. I got put into his German class, but went to the guidance counselor and switched to spanish so I would be in such a hard class. I hoped every year once it came time for me to take British Literature I wouldn't have his class. I was scared. His class was so hard, or so I had heard. He was one of those strict teachers. To be honest, I was a senior, I was ready to take it easy and get out of there! I wanted one of those teachers who were laid back and didn't care.
When I got his class, I definitely didn't get a teacher who didn't care. I got quite the opposite. I got all the things I was scared of. I quickly learned though, it was all of the things I needed.
I was always very quiet in his class. I knew the subject wasn't my strong suit so I didn't want much attention. To be honest I didn't always make the best grades in there either, but I tried. I would go before and after class and ask questions and do extra credit. I still didnt' make the good grades, but I tried. He saw that too. I don't know how it happened, but I passed the class. I think the only reason I passed was because he saw that I tried.
He called me Vic. I don't know why I loved it so much. Maybe it was because while I was quiet and trying to hide he noticed me, he remembered me, and he truly cared. I know this because years later he still remembered me. He remembered everyone, and not just remembered, he cared about every single person.
Now that he has passed away Facebook is flooded with memories of him. I'm seeing that he has touched every single person who has been in his class. We were all special to him, it wasn't just me, and he was just as special to all of us.
I remember doing a newspaper article about him where I asked him questions about his past. I wish I could find it today because my memory isn't good enough to remember much.
What I do remember is that he use to be in the military, Navy I think. Its hard for me to picture this. He has been all over the world and learned multiple languages. If I remember correctly, it was 5 languages, including Latin. He was engaged, but his fiance died young. I remember not asking anymore about that. It seems he has been alone ever since, but he always had his students. I asked him how old he was and the answer was something crazy like 250. He told a lot of people this, and I think we all believed him. He seemed to be immortal. He was here long before we got here, and we just thought he would be around forever. I just couldn't ever imagine a world without him teaching.
He told us he would die teaching, and thats just what he did. I pray that he died happy and that he knew even just a fraction of the love that this community has for him. I think most teachers go to work with the hope that they touch just one life, but this man has touched hundreds. Its been six years since I stepped into his classroom, but the things I learned there will stay with me forever.