I'm going to reflect back to high school for my back to school story because it's simply the best....
Senior Shurla. My Spanish teacher 9th grade, first class after lunch period. I remember how he put his foot down. I'd never had a teacher like him. "You will come in here with your work done, or it's an automatic F. Don't try to get your homework done during class. If I walk in on you and catch you trying to do it you will get an F. You will only speak in Spanish in my class." (i'm sure I paraphrased somewhere along the way, but the point was clear.) Any other time and F would be just an F, but his sterness and sincerity made it feel as though an F would be a near death experience. I thought to myself I am going to hate this class. Why did I choose Spanish? I remember the few times trying to throw my incomplete homework together at lunch because I was afraid of that man. Afraid of him walking up to me and catching my homework undone. I remember him having us take out our homework at the start of class as he'd walk down the rows making sure our homework was totally completed.
I remember some of my classmates making fun of him. He must have been quite short, because someone pointed out that he always wore stacks. I checked for myself and indeed he did. He always wore long pants that almost completely covered his shoes, I suppose to hide that fact. He had a simple haircut, almost mushroom like and mostly a stern face. Not one to smile often.
Senior Shurla turned out to be one of the greatest teachers ever and one of my personal favorites after I got over my fear of him marking an F on my paper. He actually made learning Spanish a reality and it was really fun. We'd play games on Fridays and the winning team would always get authentic spanish candy. Not the kind you can just find in a supermarket. I want to think he must have ordered it directly from spanish speaking countries. In his class I got to experience an authentic Mexican restaurant, a Spanish museum and El Rey Supermercado. The highlight of the class was Cinco de Mayo. He'd bought a pinata and stuffed it with more authentic spanish candies and some Mexican coins. That day, I didn't care about the candy. I wanted a coin that I would keep forever. Unfortunately, everyone beat me to them. That day his smile was like the sunlight as we enjoyed the festivities. I may have eaten the hottest pepper that I will ever eat in my life on a dare from him.
As you can see it turns out he wasn't so bad after all. He made us want to learn. He made learning fun and interesting. He wanted us to learn all that we could in his class and turned out to be one of the handful of teachers that really did give a care about each of his students.