Saturday, September 01, 2007

Funnyman Gets Serious for a Good Reason

Most of the posts on Dave Barry's Blog are links to offbeat, humorous stories, but a few days ago (yes, I'm getting caught up on my reading today) was quite different; it's a tribute to a beloved former teacher who just passed on. Here are some excerpts:
As a student at Pleasantville (N.Y.) High School in the sixties, I was lucky enough to get to know Anthony Sabella, sometimes known to students as Tough Tony. He was the assistant principal, which meant he was the school's main disciplinarian, which meant I had plenty of interaction with him. But despite the fact that on more than one occasion I was genuinely concerned that he might -- as he threatened -- pick me up by my neck and drop me out of a third-floor window, we actually became sort of friends, or as friendly as a school disciplinarian and a total wise[guy] can be.

In addition to being assistant principal, Mr. Sabella was a much-respected high-school-sports official. He also taught American History. I was in his class one year, and it was one of the best classes I ever took, high school or college. Mr. Sabella was very knowledgeable and had strong opinions, but it never bothered him if you disagreed. He liked the give-and-take, which was not always the case with my teachers. By the end of my senior year, I really liked running into him, and I think he liked running into me, even though these run-ins still sometimes ended with my getting detention.

[...]Over the years I occasionally mentioned Mr. Sabella in columns, and was always delighted to hear from him, and his family. Recently, however, I heard he was not doing well. Today I learned that he died. So I'm sad about that. But it heartens me to think that if there is an afterlife, and if the afterlife has a dress code, it will henceforth be strictly enforced.
Read the whole thing, including the comment thread, where others remember their own favorite teachers, and some of Dave's classmates from 40-some years ago make appearances.

As I noted in my own post, it warms the heart to read so many testimonials about former teachers who have made a difference in people's lives. As a teacher myself, that's certainly one of the reasons I do what I do. (It's not the money. LOL.)

And even though I almost feel bad about using a solemn moment like this to push one of my pet causes, it should not go unnoticed that Mr. Sabella remained a teacher after he became an administrator. I'd bet money that a root cause of his effectiveness could be found right there.

As I said at the close of my own comment, may all of you not only have a Mr. Sabella in your lives, but also get the opportunity to be one to somebody.

Yet another movie sequel: Snakes at a Taco Bell.

Not exactly "Free Willy" for these tourists: Last year, on the big band trip to Washington state, we spent an afternoon whale-watching. It was very enjoyable (except for the few in our group who got seasick), and I'm glad we didn't have to experience what a group of tourists in Japan did recently, when the whale they were watching was harpooned by a whaling boat before their very eyes.

Photo of the (yester)day: Sunset with schooner, by Ann Althouse, whose outstanding photography has been on display quite a bit since she relocated to Brooklyn for a yearlong teaching assignment. I wish my work hours didn't keep me from seeing the sunset so often...

No comments: