Romans 12:6-7 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
Ninth grade, Environmental Science at Clay Jr. High…meet a less than motivated middle school student who could not care less about school. Surprise, surprise, I was at school for the social aspect. I was not a great student in the early years (actually until I was a junior in college), I was average at best. This was of my own choosing as I had more important things to focus on in my youth; boys, 80’s hair bands and spending time at the mall. Before ninth grade, I’d had good teachers but no one that saw “potential” in me or invested time in me or encouraged me to be more than what I was. I had typically been labeled “lazy” and spent most of my elementary years with my desk right next to the teacher. I missed a lot of recess for talking and not turning in assignments on time. I had yet to be inspired by someone in the school system. Little did I know that was about to change.
Meet Mr. Mark Weaver, a dynamic teacher, grades be damned, he was going to influence and inspire and love kids (all kids) to aim for the stars and reach their full potential. It was the first time I remember being excited to go to a class! His room was chock-full of weird things. Animals, Bee hives that had been evacuated, furs, papers, old projects. It was a cacophony of crap that to this 14-year-old was absolutely magical. Mr. Weaver was always in a good mood, smiling and greeting students for another great day of ninth grade instruction. It was the first time that I had seen a teacher facilitate learning and encourage curiosity. I remember doing a huge project on Gorillas and it was fun, I learned a ton, and it sparked creativity in me that fueled a fire and I knew that people who were “outside the box” were from my home planet. I thrived in this class and it was all because of Mr. Weaver. I was so inspired that I became a teacher because of him. I like to think my brand of “weird” is a tribute to him and the passion for learning that he brought out in me.
I have had the enormous pleasure of seeing Mr. Weaver as I have grown into adulthood (advantage of staying in your hometown) and my oldest son, Connor, had him as a teacher as well! What a joy for my son to learn from a teacher that had such a profound impact on my life!
Mr. Weaver is retired now. My son reached out to him to interview him for a project he had at the high school. Last week, Connor and I got to sit down and share a meal with Mr. Weaver. I can’t describe how special I felt all over again as the memories came flooding back. Mr. Weaver had been part of a teacher study program in Japan and had heard a survivor talk from the Hiroshima bombing. As I sat there and listened to him share stories, I was the same 14-year-old girl who had been so privileged to be in his class and share his electric energy once again. I hope that I am half the teacher that Mr. Weaver was and is. I also hope I have the opportunity to continue to spend time with him. He has many more stories to tell and I have ears to listen. Thank you, Mr. Weaver, for being the best teacher I ever had!