OK...I'm sure we all could debate for hours on who's the best teacher ever...but Mr. Sergeant certainly left a lasting impression on me! Mr. Sergeant (aka Sarge) was my art teacher in high school...I actually took every art class he taught. My senior year I took Independent Study with him because I had taken all the art classes he taught by that time. He wasn't your typical teacher!
Sarge is an amazing artist and his passion for art always came through in his classes. He didn't care how talented you were as long as he knew you had tried your hardest. If he thought you skimped on a project or gave it less than 100%, he certainly let you know! Sarge was also one of the football coaches...so he was very vocal. He "kicked" our butts into gear for sure! I was constantly challenged to reach within myself and create art.
What has really left the biggest lasting impression on me though, is not Sarge's talent as an artist, or his ability to teach art. What really stands out is that he cared about every single one of his students. He didn't care what your last name was, if you were an athlete, an honor student, or if your parents were members of the PTA. He didn't care if you were straight, gay, or bisexual. He didn't care if you were a walking American Eagle ad or if you had an anarchy patch sewn onto your surplus army jacket and your hair was long (does this date me?). Every student had the same potential to Sarge. He encouraged all of us to be ourselves and to never give up on ourselves. I'm sure all of us remember those teachers who did care about that stuff, and how they treated students differently....maybe some of you were that student that didn't fit in. I feel like he would make a point to challenge those students that other teachers had dismissed or given up on.
Sarge is an example of what I think all teachers should be. He's more than just someone standing up at a chalk board drilling facts and concepts into kids' heads. He cares about more than whether you get an A...he wants every student to evolve, be strong, have confidence. I remember my senior year when I started dating my future ex-husband. Sarge heard me talking about my new boyfriend to a friend and in a not-so-subtle way says..."make sure to always use a parachute when jumping out of a plane!....But then why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good plane?" I remember laughing at him then...but now I think about how many teachers would never dare to tell their students to be safe. Teachers can have a huge impact on developing minds and it's important to realize that their behavior can positively or negatively shape those minds.
After I graduated I came back to visit Sarge. I had lost about 20 pounds and the first thing Sarge does is tell me I need to gain weight...that I'm too skinny and have no muscle tone...lol...he was never shy about telling a student his mind and that's one thing I really respect about him. He taught me so much about be creative...and at the same time he taught me to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect.