Posted: Monday, September 27, 2010 5:06:20 PM
An army of rabid school children stand before him. Fueled by teenage angst and enraged by having last lunch, these monsters are ready to devour all who dare to educate them. But one man, armed only with a tome of infinite knowledge, and the legendary sword of “Expo”, awaits these savages with a wink and a smile. That man is Charles Willard, World History teacher and my hero.
When I first met Mr. Willard, I admit, I was one of the aforementioned savages. Yet by the end of the school year, I was as tame as a kitten, willing and able to recite everything from the Crusades to the major world religions. Mr. Willard’s silver tongue and ability to make anyone and everyone want to learn is a sight to behold. On one such occasion, while having a class wide dialog on current events leading up to the 2008 presidential election, everyone had something valuable and thought provoking to say. From the jocks that were only in class once a week just to pick up their assignments, to the indifferent and uncaring slackers who nine times out of eight were asleep while wallowing in pools of their own drool, Mr. Willard managed to incite everyone into speaking in such a manner that you would think you were watching a meeting of the junior republicans. He even went so far as to have us go out and research the issues in more detail, and the following class, we again opened a forum where those who were once silent, now had their voices echoed amongst the rest. All while being led by one simple man, Charles Willard.
Yet you might be saying, “Ok, everyone was all abuzz about the elections, what’s the big deal”. Well my good naysayer, the fact is that this was something that echoed throughout the school year. Under the tutelage of Mr. Willard we, his students, had what is unanimously held as “The greatest history class” of our high school careers. What still astounds me to this day is how easily he would be able to individualize with every student, and dig deep into what drove them to learn. In my case, he noticed that I had an aptitude that was a cut above the rest. After hearing about my plans after high school, he started calling me “Dr. Burkins”. And from that day on, I worked twice as hard not just for my own personal goals, but rather to ensure that I was worthy of one day holding that prestigious title that one great man, Charles Willard, knew that I could obtain.
Many are called to educate the youths that carry the burden of reshaping the world for a better future. For them it is a task that seems almost insurmountable. Yet if you are one such as Charles Willard, poised and ready for any and every challenge, you will see that beyond this trial awaits a brighter tomorrow.