The Saratoga Sun -

The Awakener

 


Editor:

"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."-- Robert Frost

This past weekend, I visited my hometown of Saratoga, Wyoming.  The reason for the trip was bittersweet.  My favorite teacher retired this year.  He was honored Saturday evening, and I was blessed to be a part of the celebration.

Mr. Patrick was my English and Humanities teacher, and my Speech and Debate coach for four years. He, and his infamous red pen, served to strengthen my early writing by, often, not-so-gentle critiques. It stung to see the red lacerations on my returned work, but they were always fairly earned and were balanced with kind words that guided me to be better as a writer and as a student.

He chopped away the nonsense and built up my skills of self-critique, creating a writer who could see through her poor grammar to something superior.  He pushed me to be outstanding, stood up against my critics, and saw in me more than I ever could see in myself.  Only when I breezed through my college-level English courses, with nary a red mark, did I fully understand the gift he gave me with that crimson pen.

A mentor isn’t someone who coddles you. They don’t let you get away with mediocrity. They push; they bring tears, because they know that forming a masterpiece is painful work. They balance the over-the-glasses-glares with pleased smiles, and that’s what molds the plain into extraordinary.  The best gift I can ever hope to give is to offer the same tough love to others, to be encouraging without indulging, and to push for levels of achievement and creativity that I know lie beyond the average in myself and others.

Mr. Patrick will no longer walk the brick hallways of Saratoga High School. He’s putting the red pen down and picking up leisurely books and garden shears. I wish him a blessed life, filled with hammock naps and years of laughter. To him, and all of the other brilliant teachers and mentors I offer my thanks and this:

"What is a teacher? I'll tell you: it isn't someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows."-- Paulo Coelho.

Sarah (Wickstrom) Reichert

Fort Collins, Colo.

 

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