Sunday, January 18, 2009


Tyler was one of those people who was not cut out for the one-size-fits-all routine of public education. He's brilliant and thoughtful -- quiet and unassuming -- and I'm sure school bored him much of the time because typical busy work (a bane to any student) did not tap into those deep places of his intellect or creativity. A fine arts school would have been more to his liking, I imagine -- a place where he could excel in music and theatre production with like-minded classmates and teachers.

His parents expectations and demands, while well meaning, did not recognize that their son marched to the beat of a different drummer. While I tried to offer him something substantial (as, I'm sure, other teachers did), he didn't always respond to those opportunities. Yet, Tyler is one of my most memorable students.

While in England, I bought a cardboard model of The Globe Theatre and about half-way through its assembly, I gave up on it. When I asked my freshman if anyone would be interested in helping me, it was not until seventh hour, Tyler said, "I can do that for you." I remember the day he stayed after school to work on it, chatting with me freely and comfortably.

It was my good fortune to have Tyler in one of my junior English classes two years later -- still remember smiling when I saw his name on the class roster! That fall he read the part of Danforth in The Crucible with such finesse and expression that I called on him every day to take that part! His skill was beyond his years! And to a teacher who had listened to dozens of teenagers butcher Miller (and Shakespeare) over the years, his delivery was as welcome as a spring breeze on the edge of winter.

Every morning before the first bell during his senior year, Tyler and a group of friends (most my students) could be found in the 900 hall (near my room). Between book bags and long limbs, the 10 of them (give or take) sprawled across the floor. Some were annoyed by having to step over, through or around them, but I was always glad to see their camaraderie, their smiles.

Recently, I found him on Facebook and am delighted to catch up on what he's doing now. God's blessings to you, Tyler, for pressing on through the challenges of high school and family dynamics and for helping make my years as your teacher two of my favorite!