It's National Teacher Appreciation Day. I'm thankful to the many great teachers who have changed my life through the years.
I think of several in particular.
The first is Mrs. Dorothy Everett, my fourth grade teacher. She was demanding and fair, knowledgeable and caring.
Cleo Goldsberry, my fifth grade teacher, deepened my passion for reading as a means of knowing more of the world.
In junior high school, I appreciated Mr. O'Leary. He was our PhysEd teacher and though I was no athlete, he always encouraged me and my love for sports, a lifelong passion.
In senior high school, I especially appreciated Mrs. Rosemary Leuchter, the English teacher who taught us so much and demanded so much of us. Because of her, I was able to proficiency test out of all my English requirements at Ohio State.
Also, my Journalism teachers, Mrs. Becker and Mrs. Dritz, in their roles as sponsors of our high school paper, 'The Occident,' encouraged us to write succinctly and well.
Another high school faculty member, a man from whom I never took a class, had a positive impact on me. He was our head football and basketball coach, who won championships in both sports, Dave Koblentz. As noted above, I was no athlete and he coached a ton of good ones. But he also knew and interacted with every student in our school. Twenty years after graduating from high school, I saw Mr. Koblentz at a restaurant. I went over to him and said, "Mr. Koblentz, you won't remember me, but..." "Mark Daniels!" he said. "How are you?" Good teachers pay attention and Mr. Koblentz clearly did!
In college, I was blessed with so many great professors. Stan Swart, Jim Kweder, and Don Van Meter were just three. Stan was my history professor for my first two quarters at OSU. He used to tease me about coming to class in my West High School jacket, but he became a terrific friend and mentor. He and his wife attended our wedding.
In seminary, the professor and mentor who, more than anyone, challenged me to go deeper with Christ, to live in and study God's Word, to live my faith with passion, to employ whatever intellect I have to God's glory, and who, by the way he lived toward some often scornful critics, taught us how to love those who hate us, was Pastor Bruce Schein. Pastor Schein died just two years after I was ordained. But there isn't a day that passes when I don't think of him and remember what he taught us.
From each of these teachers, at every level of my life and schooling, I learned so much.
The saying, of course, is that those who can't teach. That's not true.
There are some teachers who have no business teaching, of course. But my experience is that the best teachers have a God-given passion for teaching. They love their students and then, out of that love, demand the best from them.
My teachers have, for the most part, been far better as teachers than I have been as a student. But God empowered the really good ones to take this unpromising lump of clay and do things that have changed and continue to change my life each day.
Thanks to all my teachers!
[UPDATE: I should add that I had a number of other great profs at seminary: Merlin Hoops, Tryg Skarsten, Wally Taylor, Jim Schaaf, Ralph Doermann, and Ron Hals.]