Years ago (almost 30!), a friend of mine and I listened obsessively to "To Sir, With Love" and thought about our years in prep school and one man's influence on our lives. Today I learned that man died last week. I'm in shock.
This was the person I'd decided I absolutely had to learn from, that no matter what, I would get into that school and take classes from him. This was the first person outside my immediate family that made me feel smart and accepted, rather than an outsider with bizarre ideas. This was the teacher that taught me to think critically, who introduced me to new ideas and who taught me Philosophy. This was the most important influence of my high school career. At last year's, and this year's, Book Fair at MPOW, I urge students to read Mishima's Sea of Fertility quartet, just as he urged me to do. This was also someone I was unafraid to joke with, or pull a prank on (like putting lemon juice in his coffee), or argue with about the difference between a door and a window.
He's gone now, and it feels like a part of me has also gone. I'll never again hear his voice saying "Good morning, philosophers". I'm proud to have known him, prouder still that he considered me, even at the young age of 15, someone worth knowing.