Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mr. R.

Growing up, not everyone is fortunate enough to encounter teachers that have a significant influence. I’m fortunate enough to have had several. I’d have to place my high school biology teacher at the top of the list. Mr. R. was the first person to teach me biology as a specific discipline rather than just as part of a general science curriculum.

Mr. R. was a superb teacher of general biology, but his own interest centered heavily on ecology and environmental science. One of our exercises was to lay out a meter square plot in a field adjacent to the school and identify everything, including both plants and animals, found within the plot. We took lots of field trips to examples of New England ecosystems, some of which have become much beloved by me (quaking bog, anyone?). He introduced me to a lot of ecological terminology (ecotone, niche, succession) that I use to this day. More than any other single individual, Mr. R. influenced me to become a biologist.

On my first visit home after completing my doctorate, my parents threw a small reception for me. Mr. R. was, of course, on the guest list. I remember him beaming through the entire event, and me feeling pleased that he was so obviously proud of my accomplishment.

Mr. R’s funeral was today. I learned only yesterday that he had recently passed after a brief illness. I owe so much to his guidance and mentorship. In his honor, I am contacting a couple of other teachers to tell them what they meant to me. Goodbye, Mr. R., and thanks.

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11 Comments:

At 14:43, Blogger Persis said...

The memorial service was nice, Hardy Nalley made a short rememberance of Captain Seaweed. Several other MHS teachers were in attendance, and the reception afterwards was a small homecoming for me. Thanks for a lovely rememberance, Doug.

 
At 15:16, Anonymous Laurel said...

Beautifully said. I had an urge a couple of years ago to reach out to a high school teacher and a college professor who were both instrumental in shaping my life. I'm now in regular contact with them and see them both every summer when I go north. As we both know, it's important to tell people what they mean to us while they are still around to hear it. Thanks for so eloquently 'eulogizing' him here!
Laurel

 
At 17:31, Blogger Floridacracker said...

Nicely done, Doug.
The saying, "Teachers touch the future" seems so appropriate here.
I know he was proud of you.

 
At 12:31, Anonymous Mark H said...

Yes, beautifully expressed, and felt. I identify with your post since I HAVE regained close contact with my most influential piano teacher, who'se now 82...and we're having a grand time exchanging notes...it's fabulous. I DO SO remember 2-3 of my most influential, kind, school teachers. NOTHING else in life has been any more memorable than them when I was such a little guy......

 
At 23:53, Blogger Ur-spo said...

what a sad news

I've known some great teachers too, enthusied about
their topic (english, biology) and they were excited about me being interested. so they got me going like you did.

 
At 16:23, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Oh, Doug, I am so sorry! What a great tribute to him! I think we all have at least one teacher like this in our past. So glad you had such a great one! Today's teachers are so often under appreciated and underpaid!

 
At 15:25, Blogger Will said...

Yes, by all means get in touch with the others before it's too late. There were a couple of people in my life who I assumed would always "be there." Of curse it was not to be.

The memorial service sounds very lovely in your description.

 
At 21:30, Blogger Ur-spo said...

Douglas dear - put out a new post please !

 
At 15:45, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Well said. I was lucky enough to have several good teachers as well...

 
At 07:50, Blogger Cyren said...

Hi, I'm not sure if this is the place to ask you this, but could you help me with a problem? I need to know what Leaf Insects eat? Are they picky eaters or will they accept a wide variety of foodplants?

 
At 09:22, Blogger Will said...

Hyva, Urho! That's thanks to my partially Finnish-speaking husband.

 

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