Earlier this week, my wife and I watched a program on PBS called Tribute: A Concert Honoring the Teachers of America. As soon as the second song started with Elmo (the Muppet) standing in for Mary in the legendary folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, I knew we were in trouble. It did however spark a discussion afterwards about the teachers in our lives that made a difference.
For me, when I consider “my favorite teacher” I don’t automatically think of those teachers whose classes I enjoyed. There were a handful of them, like Mrs. Jones’ art classes. And though it’s true that they were memorable, they’re not the ones that really changed or help shape me. That honor (if you can call it that) belongs to my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Jim Bynum.
He has one of those personalities that you either love or hate. He’s loud, silly, energetic, and intelligent enough to back it up. And while all of that is fine & good, he’s my favorite because he made a difference in my life. He was the first teacher to push me to greater heights – to make me believe that I was capable of excelling instead of just getting by. He cared, but he wasn’t mushy or inspirational about it – it was expressed more in how he challenged me & made me always strive to do better & better.
That was the first year that I remember actually caring about my education. I changed a lot as a person that year. I started growing up I guess. And I count Mr. Bynum as a huge part of that transformation. So, here’s to you Jim, and here’s to all of the teachers out there who have made a difference & made the world a better place one student at a time. Cheers!