Turtle on a Fencepost: Part 2

If you haven’t done so – please read Part 1 first.

When I entered 10th grade (High School Sophomore) I was floundering in many ways. Nothing interested me enough to think of devoting my life to it. I didn’t even have much in the way of hobbies.

It was at that time I encountered Mr. Held. The teacher who changed my life. Talking to many people over the years I have found that 3 of 4 remember one teacher that really reached them, that touched them deeply.

Perhaps the greatest gift a teacher can impart to a student is passion. As a youth I certainly never associated the word passion with knowledge! But an educator that has a fervor for what they teach and a strong desire to share that with young people is a priceless commodity, and Mr. Held was that and more.

Mr. Held was my Biology instructor. I entered that school year liking animals and having had numerous pets. But by the time I left it I had such a zeal for learning about life that it led me to being accepted to two universities with a declared major in Marine Biology.

What life changes came of that school year? More numerous than I can recount. Here are a few: I developed a green thumb, I pursued and achieved SCUBA certification, on many occasions I took my children hunting lizards & snakes and taught them the wonders of living things, and I hope some of that is rubbing off on my grandchildren too.

When I look at a spider, a leaf or a field mouse I see beyond the surface. I see a system of interlocking life, fitting together so splendidly that it is obviously perfect by design. I see eight legs, six eyes, ingenuity, photosynthesis, hibernation, amazing breeding rates and a zillion other things. Mr. Held did not just bestow knowledge, he gave me a hunger to know more and a willingness to both  ask questions and also seek out answers. What a gift!

What can a teacher mean to their students? Watch these movies:
Stand and Deliver
Dangerous Minds
Lean on Me
Mr. Holland’s Opus
Dead Poet’s Society
To Sir With Love
The Miracle Worker
Renaissance Man
Music of the Heart
The Karate Kid
Each and every one of these offers ideas of what a truly good teacher can do. For my part, the truth is even better.

In preparing this post I decided to check up on Mr. Held. I guess it came as no surprise to discover that he has passed on, after all this happened 45 years ago. Out of respect to him and others like him I will end this by sharing his obituary.

Richard W. Held, age 90, died on June 13, 2006. He was a resident at Luther Crest Retirement Community. He was the beloved husband of Ruth (Snyder) for 66 years. Born in Wescosville and graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1937. He was a biology teacher for the Hamilton School District in New Jersey, from 1954 until he retired in 1981, serving as department chairman and curriculum coordinator for more than 12 years. He was a member of the Allentown Y.M.C.A. and the M.O.R.A. Club and served as its transportation director for five years.

Thank you Mr, Held. God Bless our teachers.

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This entry was posted in All About The Experience, Common Sense, Relationships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Turtle on a Fencepost: Part 2

  1. Pam Burch says:

    Very sweet tribute. As a teacher and lover of” the way bodies work”, I can really hear what you are saying. I hope Mr. Held knew…

  2. C says:

    Thanks Pam. And yes, he knew. I was so enthralled that I could not have kept it a secret if I wanted to. I was always pestering him after class with questions and thoughts and I recall actually being eager for all the assignments he handed out. Funny thing though, I never understood why the rest of the class didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm!

  3. Pingback: Turtle Interregnum | StephensonGroup.org

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