Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Do you remember your favorite teacher?

Growing up, my dad was often in the hospital for kidney issues.  Sometimes he would be in the local hospital and sometimes he would need to travel to a larger hospital for weeks at a time.  One of those times happened during my fifth grade year.  That year, I had a teacher named Mr. Reed.  I guess the best word to describe him was "jolly."  He always had a smile and a joke to share (usually the really bad ones that make my own kids groan when I tell them).  In addition to teaching, Mr. Reed directed the high school musicals and often recruited younger students into the cast (we were a small district).  He encouraged me to audition for the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" and I was cast as Little Jake.  It was a wonderful experience and I would go on to be in several more musicals by the time I graduated high school.

As influential as Mr. Reed was as my teacher and director, he made an even bigger impact on my life that year.  While my dad was in Grand Rapids (nearly two hours from my home), Mr. Reed and his wife (also a teacher at my school) opened up their home to me.  I stayed with them for a week until my mom returned on the weekend from the hospital.  Those were some hard times and I had a lot of emotions going on, not to mention the stress of staying with my fifth grade teacher!  But somehow, Mr. Reed made me feel at home with his easy going nature and we got through that time.  He always kept a business as usual manner (I was always very self-conscious about people knowing my dad was in the hospital) and rehearsals after school kept my mind off things.

It only lasted about a week, but things like that stick with you for a long time.  I remember thinking that Mr. Reed's house was much nicer than ours and that dinner time was much more formal.  They also had cable and color TV (which was something we didn't have at my house at the time).  Ah, the things that stuck out in my 11 year old mind!  Everyone liked Mr. Reed at school and he was a good role model for me both in and out of school.  Many years later, I directed a high school musical performance of Grease in the district I taught in (and coached wrestling in) and invited Mr. Reed to attend one of the performances. That night, I finally had the opportunity to publicly recognize him and thank him for being such an inspiration to me.

I think all educators have that one teacher that they look back on with admiration for inspiring them to become a teacher and making them feel like they could accomplish anything they set their minds to.  I'm not sure in fifth grade if I had made up my mind to become a teacher yet, but I do know that Mr. Reed helped me make up my mind as to what kind of man I wanted to be.

 My first acting role as "Little Jake"

 Mr. Reed (Teacher, Director, Role Model)


"I think a role model is a mentor - someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them." - Denzel Washington

"We need role models who are going to break the mold." - Carly Simon

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." - James Baldwin


Week of June 1: Megan and Alena will be giving the iReady diagnostic to targeted students.

Monday, June 8: Field Day! (following schedule given by Michelle)
Wednesday, June 10: 4th Grade Party and cook out
Thursday, June 11: All-School Assembly and music by Pato 10:00 am
                              4th Grade Clap Out 11:45 
                              Students dismissed at 12:10 pm
Friday, June 12: Last work day for teachers

Thursday, June 18: Last day to be in building before summer cleaning


  1. What a wonderful tribute, Jon! I've read so many stories about educators and the influence their fifth grade teachers had on them...amazing that the pattern is there! I'm thankful for people like Mr. Reed and people like you who pay it forward!

  2. Jon,

    Terrific post. You had me reflecting of last year. My wife and I took in a student for a week. Sometimes the benefits occur down the road.

    I'm glad you had Mr. Reed in your life, clearly he made a lasting impact.

    Thanks for sharing part of your journey.


  3. Thanks Jennifer and Ben. It's nice to know there are still so many educators out there like the two of you and Mr. Reed who go above and beyond for students. The impact lasts a lifetime!