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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: Inspiring Minds Monday ~ Back to School

Monday, July 13, 2009

Inspiring Minds Monday ~ Back to School

Today I'd like to talk about some of the teachers I had in high school. These teachers helped me to think outside the box that most other teachers try to put us in as students. Some teachers are just there for the paycheck and maybe the summer off, but there are only a few who are there to inspire some young minds.

I have two teachers from high school I'd like to talk about. (If my girlfriend is reading this she is probably imagining me saying "high school" with a southern accent. For some reason I say it that way even though I don't have a southern accent.) The first teacher I want to talk about is my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Farrelly. He is a very unique individual. When he introduced himself to the class on the first day of school that year he told us his name and then he told us he pronounced it a different way when he was eating at an Italian restaurant so they would think he was Italian. He had Friendly Mutton Chops (circled in the diagram below).

He would do impersonations of Grover from Sesame Street and he would perform Grover's "Near and Far" routine. He also impersonated Beavis and Butt-head. As child-like as he was for an old man, he also had much wisdom. We read some great novels in his class, "A Day No Pigs Would Die" and "Flowers for Algernon" were the two I remember most. Flowers for Algernon has since then become my favorite novel. I could tell that Mr. Farrelly wasn't just there for a paycheck, he was there to teach and do it in fun and creative ways. He was always available for his students to talk to.

Even though I only had that one class with Mr. Farrelly throughout my high school years, I continued to speak with him on occasion. When I received my class schedule for my senior year I had all study halls until lunch time. It would have been pointless to even go to school until after lunch, but I had to be there or else I would have been counted as absent. I took my schedule and showed it to Mr. Farrelly. He said "This is not good." He asked me what I was into. I wasn't sure how to answer that. I was never involved in any clubs or sports. I didn't really like high school, I just wanted to get there, get it over with, and get out. I told him I was kind of into art. I had taken a screen printing class and a black & white photography class before, and I liked to draw comics in study hall when I didn't have any homework to do (and sometimes when I did have homework to do). So he helped me select some art classes and I ended up taking an art history class, a drawing & painting class, and Art I. Then I took Art II and a Pottery/Sculpture class in the Spring semester. Taking those classes re-sparked my interest in the arts and has helped me get to where I am now. I had been interested in art since I was nine but never thought about it as a career before.

So then the second teacher I'd like to talk about is, you guessed it, my art teacher. His name is Mr. Hatalsky. He kind of reminds me of Steven Seagul a little, he even had the long braided ponytail. He was the instructor for most of my art classes. He was a good teacher, but he was tough. If he saw that you weren't taking the class seriously and you were just goofing off trying to get an easy A he would throw you out of the class, not physically like Steven Seagul probably would though. A student would have to take a study hall or try to get into another elective if he was kicked out of Mr. Hatalsky's class. He was very good to those who took the class seriously though. You didn't have to be a great artist to pass his class, you just had to try. He would hang the best work in the lobby of the school and I had a pastel drawing that went out there. Another teacher at the school bought it from me.

I once had to do a project for my English class during my senior year in which I had to interview some people. I chose Mr. Hatalsky to be one of the interviewees. It was nice of him to take some time after school one day to help me out. I don't remember all of the questions I asked, but I remember the last one. "What advice could you give to a senior who is about to graduate?" His answer was, "Whatever you do in life, make sure you enjoy it." I decided to take his advice. I admit that I don't enjoy really where I am now, but I'm working on it. I'm getting experience now, and I'm working in the field I want to be in, I'm just not in a place I want to be right now. Too many people go to college and study to become something that will make them wealthy, but if they don't have a passion for it, if they don't really like what they do, they will become unhappy no matter how much money it brings.

So those were two of the best teachers I had in high school. I liked the way they taught so differently from the others. I'm pretty sure they bent and even broke some of the rules for the sake of inspiring students to think for themselves instead of trying to stick them into some kind of mold so they are all the same. I learned recently that the novel "Flowers for Algernon" was banned in many schools between 1990-2000 in Texas and my homestate of Pennsylvania. I think the world could use more teachers like Mr. Farrelly and Mr. Hatalsky. Who were the teachers that influenced you?

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