Reflecting on my high school years at ACS reminds me how much I enjoy listening to people talk about what they are passionate about.

I remember learning moments like Mr. Bill de Jager spouting lines from Hamlet, or Mr. Jack Boersma explaining how to fill out your track meet sticker (through the examples of Suzy Q and Zigfried von Gugenheimer, of course), or band teacher, Mr. Jack Koning, introducing the new piece we’re going to learn that he’s been hanging on to for years and finally has just the right band to play it—those things stick with you.

Shop Class Inspiration

I have a very vivid memory of Gary Verbeek helping me tune my first car, a 1973 Pontiac Ventura, when I brought it in to shop class in grade 12.

He spent about 30 minutes going through the points gap and dwell, setting ignition timing, and dialing in that old Quadrajet like he’d done it hundreds of times (because he had). I was intrigued by that mix of art and science and the “aliveness” of a machine that you can listen to and feel out what it wants.

And while I wasn’t a part of the Auto Club, I did get invited by Gary to bring my car out to Mission Raceway to make a few passes and compete at a high school race day. When I started at ACS this year, Gary put a picture of that day on my desk that he found in his filing cabinet, one of many full circle moments of nostalgia from being back in this place after graduating in the year 2000.

In between now and then, I’ve enjoyed working with my hands on many mechanical-related projects of bringing old things back to life. I also had the opportunity to start and build a drag racing program at my former school and pass on those passions to students, just like the opportunity I had at that age.

From A Thankful Place

When I think back to experiences like Gary tuning that car, I can appreciate so much more my experiences as a student now that I’ve been a teacher for almost two decades.

One thing I appreciate more is the time that teachers put into experiences in and out of the classroom.

When you’re a student, you just consume it, but as a teacher you realize all the time and intentionality that must have been invested in experiences like drag racing, track and field meets, sports tournaments, band tours, in addition to the daily rhythms of being in the classroom moving from Shakespeare in English, to a trail and stair run (they still do it!) in PE, to a sense-filled ester lab in chemistry, and the list goes on.

There’s a lot that goes into all that learning. I’m reminded that the work I do in teaching is work that many others have done for me in my educational journey.

And now, I get to do the same thing in my role here, whether in the classroom teaching math, or supporting and mentoring students as part of a team. It is good work, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do it.