August 6 – i’m accounting on you

13/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Just like many of my former students have mentioned that I, as a teacher, have made a difference for them (and I thank each and every one of you) – I, too, had two teachers who did this for me. The first I talked about in an earlier post and the second I want to honour today. I went to school in Richmond and grades 11 and 12 were at a separate school (Richmond High). I did not enjoy high school at all because of the constant bullying. I kept to myself, didn’t really have any friends, wasn’t in any teams or clubs and I did not make many indelible memories for my teachers. If not for Mr. (Robert) O, I’d just be another one of those kids that slipped through the cracks. Mr O was my Accounting teacher – yup, I just added fuel to the fire as I took electives that were (back then) nerdy or girly (was told that several times). I didn’t really like the course but Mr O was a safe haven for me. I could go into his classroom at noon and eat my lunch and work on my Accounting. I knew my stuff but at times, I would just pretend to be lost with my Accounting work so that I had a place to hang out at lunch and I’m sure Mr O had this figured out. One day, I happened to be talking to a fellow student and co-worker from McDonald’s. We were sitting in the halls for what I thought was between class time but it turned out to be a full hour and I had been “skipping” Accounting class – and I was right outside Mr O’s door. The bell rang and he came outside to let the students out and spotted me. I was stunned – couldn’t understand why everyone was in the halls and then realized that I missed class. He let the class out, waited for the halls to die down and in a hushed tone told me that he would be seeing me in a few minutes (it was lunch). I was bewildered and scared – I’m in grade 11 and this is the first time I skipped but I didn’t skip because I didn’t know how to skip class or have anyone to do it with. Anyways, I came into his class and sat down at a desk. He kindly told me that he could phone home but he will probably see me every day at lunch this week to make up the time. I was in shock and relief at the same time. Here was a teacher giving me an easy out – my normal routine. I was so impressed and thankful that he talked to me, made the right judgment call, didn’t embarrass me, called me on my mistake and also respected me. Years later, as a teacher, I model myself after Mr O – UBC taught me the theory of education but no course at UBC taught me how to respect my students and make decisions that gave them second chances – I owe all that to Mr O. Here’s to you Mr O – 30+ years later, I’m a teacher treating my students like you treated me and I am also teaching some Accounting classes!! Just wow – thanks Mr O!

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