Tuesday, July 25, 2017

September 8, 1987

Dates.  We all have dates that we remember no matter what.  Our birthday, the birthdays of loved ones, anniversaries.  And of course, historical events.  As a young child, I remember my grandparents telling me where they were as they learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed; I remember them (and my parents) telling me where they were and what they were doing when JFK was shot - as well as MLK and RFK.  I think about my life - President Reagan being shot, the Space Shuttle exploding, the Rodney King verdict and riots that ensued, OJ and the Bronco chase.  9/11.  More recently, November 8, 2016 - (talking about a day that will live in infamy.)

So, with all of this mentioned above, why on earth am I blogging about September 8, 1987?  That day changed my life - and to this day, I am forever grateful.  September 8, 1987 was my first day of junior year at Sequoia High School.  Up until this point in my life, I had NO idea what I wanted to do when I finished high school.  Nobody in my family ever attended college.  My oldest brother joined the Navy when he graduated; my other brother had just graduated and was trying to figure it out.  But on this day, as the bell was about to ring for the beginning of fourth period, it all changed.  I walked into Room 129, sat down... and the rest is history.

The desks in the classroom were in a "U" shape, three students deep.  And right when the period started, the crazy teacher grabbed his camera and started taking our pictures by rows - for his seating chart!  The energy that came out of him was contagious; he spent very little time talking about rules; instead we talked about what we were going to learn and got down to business.  Yep, One Run, Two Zoo (if anybody reads this blog and knows me, they will know what 1R 2Z is.)  Fifty minutes later I emerged from the room knowing I wanted to be a teacher.  The reason:  my teacher, Rod Liner.

Fast forward 30 years later.  I am entering my 23rd year as an educator.  I was fortunate enough to start my career at Sequoia and receive mentoring from Rod.   I had him as a guest speaker in class - we put together a panel for students to ask questions on many topics such as gays in the military and the Holocaust.

During my first year teaching, Rod told me to read a book - The Drifters by James Michener - changed my life.  Fortunately we have not lost contact - and to this day we correspond regularly - emails that I look forward to.  When we do see each other in person, I think we hit 30 topics in 30 minutes - classic!   Rod's passion for life, learning, his family, and sharing experiences is still burning strong.  Every book or film he has recommended is a home run.  As I've traveled in Europe more recently, every recommendation he makes is spot-on.

I once read this quote:  "Know and be known.  Relationships are everything."  How true.  Life is about relationships and the time we put into them.  Life is about sharing experiences with those you love.  Rod taught me about life.  I hope I've done that for others along the way.

The last day of school for the 1987-1988 school year... Rod's closing comments to us:  "If you are sitting on a bench and an elderly person sits down next to you.... and at the same time a beautiful woman pulls up in a Lamborghini and offers you a ride - you better stay on that bench.  You'll learn more from that elderly person then you'll ever learn from a Lamborghini."