Friday, September 26, 2008

Teacher Of The Year

As I was packing all of the vast amounts of pictures, newspaper clippings, and old letters that I have recieved over the years from family member, I came across a newspaper clipping about my Uncle Dudley.

My Uncle Dudley was a teacher for many, many years. He taught in the U.S. as well as overseas in Spain, Morrocco, and Germany. He taught everything from kindergarten to high school, and even served as a high school counselor at one point. He had a Masters in Education from California State Los Angeles...his life and passion was with children.

He had a way of breaking the rules with teaching, and yet coming out on top. He went above and beyond the standards of being a teacher...

I remember being a kid and discovering a photo album full of pictures of children and a classroom. I started asking him questions and he was very enthusiastic as he answered my questions. This photo album in particular was of a kindergarten class he taught in Pasadena, California. He showed me a picture of the "reading corner" which included a Morroccan rug to sit on, pillows from spain, and hand carved bookshelves with a lion's head carved into the corner. It was magnificent and beautiful how he incorporated his travels in with his classroom. He made learning a fun adventure - something to be embraced.

I then learned that this was a photo album of only one of his years of teaching. He had one album for each year and class. In the back of the albums he had letters and pictures that his former students had sent them as they got older.

That dedication and passion for children and teaching is what earned him the Teacher Of The Year Award in California. His write up in the paper is what I found:

It was probably him and the rest of the teachers in my family (another uncle, an aunt, my grandparents taught odd classes at a community college, and my cousin) who inspired me to become a teacher. Since I was in kindergarten, I've wanted to become a teacher. I guess it is in my blood to be one.

He touched so many people throughout his life as a teacher: I met my best friend because of him. I was in 7th grade and a girl next to me was talking to a small group of her friends about how her mom had had this teacher who had the weird last name of Doerflinger. All of the girls began laughing and I marched over there angry and told them that my last name was Doerflinger. They all looked at me with shock on their face, and made me pull out my school ID card to prove that I wasn't just kidding. I then told her that I had lots of people in my family who were teachers and sure enough - my Uncle Dudley was her mom's teacher. Ever since, we've been best friends.

At his Celebration Of Life, people came from all over the country to honor him. We had 6 tables of people who were only his students, and tables upon tables full of cards from those that couldn't make it. So many of his former students stood up to speak and told the stories of how he had been such a wonderful teacher and mentor to them. One person spoke of how Dudley had saved his life when he was depressed in high school. Another person spoke of how Dudley had gotten him into a loving foster care because his home life was not good. Everyone had wonderful things to say about him.

As I go through college persuing my dream of becoming a teacher, I think of him and his passion for teaching. I know that if someday I am a fraction of how good he was - I will be proud. He is what I strive to someday be.


Sandusky Library said...

Outstanding post!

wendy said...

Elyse - what a wonderful tribute to your Uncle Dudley! He sounds like he lived what he "taught"!

Msteri said...

A teacher's job has to be one of the best ever. I am sure Uncle Dudley was a fabulous teacher, and you will be too! Great article!