While I’m on the subject of influential teachers, there’s Mr. Ward. Mr. Ward taught chemistry to sophomores and juniors in high school. He was relatively young, but probably in his thirties, old to those of us in high school at the time.
Chemistry was fun with Mr. Ward. He had one of those plastic birds that stood in an upright position and hinged at the legs. Pushing the head, the bird swung down, and into a glass of water. The bird stayed in the water, its special head absorbing the water until magically it bounced back up. The water would shift to its body and the bobbing back into the water would start again. Thermodynamics in action.
Mr. Ward named his the ‘Weird Duck’. It bobbed its head all the time during class. When my mind wandered, which, in his class was very infrequent, my eyes always found the Weird Duck. It became a description for anything out of the ordinary. “Now that is one Weird Duck.”
I thought I’d see what I could find out about Mr. Ward all these years later and Googled him. Check out WeirdWard.net when you have some time. Former students pulled together a website that archives photos, sayings and other charms, including a picture of the weird duck, about their lives around Mr. Ward. What a great tribute to a great teacher.
I’ve been blessed with so many great influences over my life that it’s hard to point to one person and say, “they made me what I am today.” It’s a conglomeration of the interactions I’ve had in the past that defines me today, both personally and professionally.
Mr. Ward made chemistry fun to learn. If I have a regret it’s that my family moved out of the school district after that year and so I never took another of his classes. But it turns out a part of him has been with me all this time.