To my high school Advanced Comp. teacher

First things first.  The winner of the Starbucks giftcard for suggesting blog topics for me is Jan Johnson.  I didn’t count the exact number of ideas.  But I didn’t need to.  It wasn’t even close!  Thanks, Jan, for the time you took to write.  And thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I will not use all of them, but you’ll see some of the ideas turning up from time to time.  Please feel free to write to me anytime, or suggest in a blog comment that I post on a certain topic.

In my last post I wrote about the teachers who have had a massive influence on my life.  That post was prompted by an email I sent to someone on that list this past week, Mary Jo Hobart-Parks.  I got her permission to publish that note here on my blog.  My hope is that it might inspire some of my readers to write your own letters of thanks to the giants in your lives.  You don’t have to (and many won’t want to) write something this specific, but maybe something between “You rule” and the note below would suffice!  I think most people would be surprised to know how little it actually takes to make a thank you meaningful.

Here is my edited note…

I think the reason I loved you was because you inspired me.  Your class was one of very few places where I felt positive energy.  It just poured out of you every second of every hour of your class.  It lifted me, encouraged me, and planted in me a vision for how I wanted to make people feel some day.  It showed me what it’s like to deeply love something, because it was so obvious that you loved what you did.  Your class was a place where I could feel something other than the oppressive heaviness I carried around with me so often.  Your energy and enthusiasm and power and bright colorfulness stood out dramatically against the dark backdrop of my life at that time.

You were in that very small group of teachers who really inspired me and made me feel alive.  But I largely admired you from afar.  When I saw you at the funeral a few months ago, it is embarrassing to admit that I almost avoided coming to talk to you because I got nervous and really wasn’t sure what to say.  But I figured here I am a grown man who is successful in life and has a beautiful career and family, and I’d think of something.

My compulsion to write to you has been not only to say thank you, but to fill you in on how important you were to me, because there’s no way you could have known it at that time.  Your spirit, your love for what you did, the way you injected energy and enthusiasm into your job and your contacts with us as a class – I was simply in awe.

[Some words I specifically remember learning in your class: taffeta , torrid, clandestine.  Every time I have seen these words, heard them, thought about them, or used them over the past 25 years, I have thought about you!]

I have probably used far more words in this note than I needed to, simply because I’m struggling to express the inexpressible.  Perhaps that would be far better expressed in a simple thank you.  My life is better in substantial and tangible ways because of you and a very small handful of teachers like you.  You gave me something to aspire to, and you didn’t even know it.  All you did was live your life and do your thing.  Thank you for living so well, and for always doing what you did with all your heart.  I know I do not really know you personally, but because of these things and the impact you have had on me, I will love you forever.

Thank you so much.

Blessings and peace to you –


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

4 thoughts on “To my high school Advanced Comp. teacher

  1. Hi Dave,

    I was in your class with Mrs. Hobart-Parks and it was also a favorite class of mine. I wanted to tell you that although we didn’t know each other in high school, I have enjoyed getting to know you through your blogs and posts and I admire your work and your family.

    I also feel the need to tell you that “clandestine” was my my vocabulary word of the week! And the source for my word: my horoscope! (which I remember getting a laugh – oh, the things we remember)

    Thanks for always writing such wise, honest and heartfelt things.

    Leslie Sloan

    • Thanks so much for this encouraging comment, Leslie. You were in that class? That’s awesome! I have always been so shy that I have always kept my circles very small. I only remember two people in that class. One was Mike Ulshafer, because he and I did a project together, and the other was Beth (Yoder) Walsh because she was, and is, one of my closest friends and she sat right behind me. I couldn’t tell you the name of one other person who was in that class. Isn’t that so pathetic?! I’m so happy to know who “clandestine” came from. Now I’m linked to you forever in this interesting way. 🙂

      You have often made very sweet and warm comments on my Facebook posts, and it is really awesome to find out we had a class together. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this really beautiful and meaningful comment. One of the best I’ve ever gotten!

  2. Hi Dave,

    Spooky. I was helping my daughter edit a paper the other day and thought to myself, I really should right MJHP a thank you note. Do you still have her e-mail address?

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