Monday, February 9, 2009

Teaching the Second Generation

I know many teachers experience teaching into a second generation but it is still a unique and nostalgic experience for each of us when it happens for the first time. I know that some of the junior and senior girls from my first head coaching position in 1980 are now grandmothers but it is different when you get to teach and coach the parents and then the children.

In 1985 Andy was a freshman. He was in my shop class and was a very good athlete on the basketball and track teams I coached. Besides being a great runner Andy also played guitar. I remember the two of us having a jam session with our guitars at my house on at least one occasion while he was in high school. After a couple of years as a high school teacher life called me to an odyssey that would take me through factory employment, private schools, non-profit corporations, entrepreneur projects, a speaking schedule, and also, newspaper delivery and McDonald's drive through work. For the first few years some of the guys from Andy's high school would call and update me. They said they won the conference running my full court press for the next couple of years and they said Andy graduated and headed to California. That was the last I heard back around 1988.

Mr. Wiemers (top left) and Andy (standing on the right side) in a track photo from 1985.

Sometime around 2003 the main office at the middle school I now teach in said there was a family enrolling their three children in our school that had commented on the name of our middle school shop teacher. The father had said his high school shop teacher was also a Mr. Wiemers. The office didn't remember who it was and I dismissed it as interesting but not worth pursuing. One thing led to another and eventually I realized there were three of Andy's children in our elementary schools and they were headed for our middle school. First came Skylar who I had in 6th, 7th and 8th grade shop. Skylar was also one of my track managers. Skylar is a senior in high school this year. Next came Hunter who, like his dad, was also a great runner for my track team. One night after practice Hunter commented on the difficulty of the workout, but, of course, his comment just set his dad up to recall stories of track practices 20 years early before Wiemers had mellowed out. Hunter was basically told that middle school practice with Wiemers in 2006 was nothing like high school practice with Wiemers back in 1985.

Today in class I have Andy and his wife's youngest girl, Wynter. (I remember when Andy and his wife started dating.) Wynter, like the rest of her family, is a great person and has a lot of friends. She glares at me when I call her Skylar by mistake. I just laugh and tell her that she should be glad I don't call her Andy. (See photo taken today of Wynter and myself during first period shop class.)

Andy and his wife are a testimony to what is good about families and values. I can not tell you how proud I am to be able to say that I know them and that I have been a small part of their lives.

Mr. Wiemers

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