The Incredible Mr. Ward

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.

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About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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One Response to The Incredible Mr. Ward

  1. Ma’am,

    This entry called to mind my BASIC teacher in my senior year of high school, a bespectacled gent named Steven Rader. Looking back on it, he had figured out my relative geekiness long before I did:he deduced that I was trying to figure out how to draw and animate the “Doctor Who” logo, as well as the “Enterprise-D” (I was under the impression back then that the second “Star Trek” relied on CGI.), and even finished a joke I gave about a character in “Night Court”.

    Were I to produce a book on “things a computer end-user really needs to know” (there’s more to it than what most seem to think), I would’ve dedicated it to him.

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