The Importance of a Mentor

As promised in my previous post, I wanted to share a very positive teacher story with you. I have told you the negative story of the Art Teacher in my 7th grade year at Jonas Clarke Junior High School. I have also written about the terrible time I had with bullies that year and how my friend Ryan turned on me.

But, I haven’t shared how important one particular teacher was in keeping me as positive as possible. A person who very well might have kept me from skipping school and failing that year. He was my Social Studies teacher. He was a young and new teacher at this time. He was very nice and cool. We did fun things in his class, like draw a giant mural of the world on his wall that took forever to do. We had a blast doing it as well.

He made us feel important. He treated a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds with maturity and had an uncanny ability to make us all enjoy learning. At least that’s the way I felt. More than that he did some very interesting things that very few teachers would ever do. The most important thing to me was that he invited us all to his wedding. Boy did we feel special. Now we didn’t go to the reception as I recall, but how cool it was to go to our teachers wedding.

We were also in his class when the first space shuttle was launched and I remember all of us, including him, watching in amazement. For me, talking to him took my mind away from the horrors of bullying that I experienced that year. It all culminated for me in what he wrote in my yearbook. He wrote:

“This has been a great year for me, Alan, and believe it or not, you are one of the reasons. Not often does a teacher and student relationship progress to one of freindship. I guess that’s how I feel ours has gone. I think you are a super guy. You’ve made some difficult moments enjoyable because of your personality. God bless you.”

Now I have no idea if he knew anything about what I was going through, but these words really helped me at that time. I still look back on them today to remind me that all was not bad during those years. To say such positive things and make a 13-year-old feel like he made a difference was big for me. I believe if there were more teachers like him to help mentor those of us who need that during these rough times, the world and our lives would be better. I know mine was and in many ways, I think he kept me going to school during this year.

As I prepared to write this blog, I decided to search for him. I found him and it seems he is now a Principal at a school. It doesn’t surprise me to find that he has become the head person at a school and I’m sure they are the better for it. I say thank you to this teacher, and I certainly hope that others are lucky enough to have mentors and teachers that help them through their younger years. They do make a big difference!

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of a Mentor

  1. Hi,
    I found this site after googling bullying on a whim. I was bullied too, although I only got the crap beat out of me occasionally. I’ve read through a lot of your past entries and maybe this is weird, but I feel a little better after reading your perspectives.
    Anyways, this post caught my eye because I had a teacher like this. My 9th grade English teacher. By then I’d given up talking and most of my teachers accepted it but she would not. Every assignment, every book we read, every time she asked me to eat stay after, was an opportunity she took to get through to me. I don’t know if you’ve seen Good Will Hunting, but there is one scene where Sean finally get’s through to Will after repeating “It’s not your fault.” That is almost exactly how my teacher got through to me and I wonder what I would have turned out like if she hadn’t done that for me. If she hadn’t kept trying to get me to open up. That was what came to my head when I read your post, and I’m glad you found someone too.
    Thanks for the blog.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. I believe one of the many purposes when I started this blog was to have other victims out there understand and feel better reading my stories. As I say at the early parts of this blog, I waited until well into my adulthood to tell these stories. In that way I have come to understand what happened to me and how it molded me.
      By sharing them and hopefully sharing my insight as to why it happened, I hope, in part, to make others feel a little better and not so alone in what may be happening or what did happen to them. I think that many of us compartmentalize the negative things that happened to us as children. These bullying times, many of us were taught, would toughen us up and prepare us for our future adult years. In my mind, what does that mean? That adults can be bullies too and we should learn to live with it and toughen up? I don’t think that is what life should be and we should be resolving these issues earlier and telling children it is not OK to act like this, so they will stop doing it as adults.
      So, I am happy to hear that my stories helped and that you also had a mentor that helped you when times were tough. Good luck in your future endeavors!

  2. You have a fantastic blog. It’s a nice way of sharing personal stories of victims of bullying. If you and the readers are interested, there is a site that specifically tackles anything regarding bullying, depression, peer pressure. Thanks to the internet because they have a wide reach in terms of mentoring/coaching, just like Mr. Cushman. In fact, they also have on-going collaborations with schools for workshops on bullying and discovering the Inner Hero in us. Check out the site – Please feel free to share.

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