He was my ninth grade algebra teacher and he was as tough as nails. “Tough as nails” is somewhat of a cliche, but Jim Stark really was a tough son of a gun. He was a Vietnam veteran who spent 20 years in Navy. I don’t know what led him to teaching math in an overcrowded high school, but he did it and he did it well.
This was only 12 years ago, so corporal punishment had been long since abolished from our school district. Mr. Stark didn’t seem to pay much attention to that rule though, and would frequently administer what he called “Starkos” to the back of our heads if he caught us slacking or being brats.
For some reason we all loved him. For the record, I still suck at math, but he held me to a higher standard than many of my other math teachers. He cared, which I think is the mark of a truly great teacher. Unfortunately, he died last year.
Stark was one of a handful of great teachers I had throughout high school and college. I’ve always been extremely grateful for those people and I try not to take them for granted. Many students across the country don’t have nearly the same access.
Kim Eckert, a Brusly High School teacher, was recently named Louisiana’s teacher of the year. This is an amazing accomplishment that I hope everyone in the area takes note of. Good teachers can be extremely hard to come by.
I frequently hear people say that we don’t pay our public school teachers nearly enough for the hard work they do. This is probably true.
But before we pay them their proper due, it’s important to recognize that their work isn’t just difficult, it’s life changing. You can’t pay a good teacher enough money.
I’m not perfect, but I’m proud of who I am. Much of that is due to the work of a few teachers. I’d ask that you take a moment of your time to recall the teachers in your life who helped make you you.