I tell everyone who asks that my school is a great school. Last week, I had cause to reflect on why I felt that way, and how I knew it. What makes any school a great school? The students, the leadership, the teachers, the computers, the activities?? All those go into it, for sure, but this week I was reminded in the most definite way what makes my school great when St. Mark's lost Mr. A. I was finding it hard to explain to people why I was so upset when Mr. A died earlier this month. Even my family had not heard me speak of him often. “He was a good man” just did not seem to express the loss I feel. I probably had two short "walking the hall" meetings, with him in my five years here. I’m a short timer when you compare my time to his 40 years at St. Mark’s.
Those two short encounters were enough to influence my thinking about my school, even on the first day, when he greeted me by name in the hall. I had no idea who he was, but he knew me! I knew he had the secret to what makes St. Mark’s a great school, though I could not have told you that yet.
And there is the core of it. He knew what was important and it guided every move he made. I felt important every time I saw him. I never had to wonder if he recognized me, knew what I taught, or which student he helped me with (even a year later).
A speaker at his funeral last week said it, and all of a sudden, I knew how to express his power: He had his own compass, and he never strayed from TRUE NORTH. Many people know the right thing to do, but Gene never strayed from his own compass. And every single person who met him, could feel that from the first moment he spoke. Honesty, faith, integrity, consideration, wisdom, yes. But most of all, he walked a righteous path. And every moment I walked with him down a hallway, I felt sure of my path as well. This teacher, any teacher, needs to walk his or her path, that’s how we connect and pass on what the students need. Doesn’t matter what subject is taught. I knew how to do my part to be a great teacher, to make my school a great school. Just because he is not physically here anymore, does not lessen the influence of a righteous man. Lucky for us.