I missed my post on Tuesday but I didn’t think you all would mind if I posted on Saturday. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I have grown and changed from the person that I once was. You see, I was a wild child, especially in high school. I got into fights, I skipped class, I got kicked out of school for an entire semester. I had been diagnosed with panic disorder and depression; I felt as if nobody cared about me (obviously that wasn’t true but my teenage self believed it).
One day, after having suffered from a panic attack in the middle of school and getting into an argument with the principal I was pulled aside by a teacher whom I barely knew, I didn’t have any classes with him but I knew who he was, everyone knew Mister Fowler. “I want you in my class.”
“Why? I’ll never graduate.” This was only my sophomore year, I still had two and a half years to graduation and had already been told by a few teachers that I wouldn’t get my diploma.
“I believe in you. I want you in my class.” Some strings were pulled and I was put into his class agriculture class. I had already been taking horticulture and forestry with Mister Tometich and now half my days were spent in the agriculture department. It was there that I learned who I was, not just who others saw me as. He believed in me, even when I didn’t. He gave me responsibility and stability in a world that I thought was falling apart around me. When I had a panic attack at school Mister Fowler and Mister Tometich would both be there for me; I hated being locked away in the nurse’s office alone. It always made it worse for me and they knew that. I’d sit in Mister Fowler’s office, they’d help me get through the panic attack by talking to me, assuring me that things were alright, and then putting me to work.
I didn’t magically become a wonderful student. I still got into all sorts of trouble, just not in those classes. You see Fowler and Tometich believed in me. I couldn’t let them down. One December morning the principal approached me in the hallway to demand that I remove my makeup because it was offensive; I responded by telling him that I felt the Santa hat he was wearing was offensive, refused to remove my makeup, then dodged into Fowler’s class and took my seat for first period. He followed me in and made his demand again telling me I would be sent home if I did not comply. I started to refuse but then saw that look from Fowler accompanied with a slight shake of his head, I went to the restroom, washed off my makeup, and went back to class. I couldn’t disappoint him, he believed in me.
By the time my senior year rolled around I was being left to “watch over” the class when Fowler had to leave for a FFA competition, even asked to come in during my free hour to help the substitute teacher. I had been asked to write the final exam for the year one agriculture students, I was at school early and left late so that I could help in the greenhouse or in the shop area. To be completely honest, I went to school because of these two wonderful teachers, I graduated because of them. I graduated for them (and my parents; the four people in my life that I didn’t want to disappoint). When I did graduate Mister Fowler told me that he always believed in me, from that moment that he saw me in the middle of a panic attack in the hallway arguing with the principal. He believed in me, he knew that I had more in my future than to just be the kid who got expelled (as that’s what the principal was pushing for), he stood up for me. He guided me. He placed me on the correct path. I will always be grateful that he saw something in me that I didn’t even see.
While I mourn the loss of my dear teacher, my mentor. I will always remember David Fowler with fondness, I will always be thankful for the wonderful man that he was. Not many teachers take the time to take the outcasts, the trouble makers, the loners, and help them to become more than just a statistic. I will always be one of Fowler’s kids.
Were you lucky enough to have a teacher who transformed your life?