Sometimes we don’t realize when we are being given a precious, life changing gift. In my case, it wasn’t until almost a decade later that I appreciated the value of the gift I was given.
The classroom was overflowing, with standing room only for some, on the first day of 11th grade chemistry. The instructor, a tall, lank man with black hair, wild blue eyes, and a lab coat finally made his entrance. He poured the contents of two flasks into the paper mache volcano on his desk created an impressive eruption as he said “Welcome to chemistry!” I thought “Yes! I am going to LOVE this class!” My bubble was burst rather quickly when a school assistant arrived, said the class was overcrowded, and my name was included on the list to follow her to another classroom.
The motley group of nine 11th graders scattered among the 40 seats in the new classroom. It wasn’t long before the instructor arrived. He had a medium build and appeared reserved with nondescript brown hair and large glasses. He said “My name is Mr. Beczkiewicz, and I will be your chemistry teacher this year. Please take out a piece of paper for your first pop quiz. If you can spell my name correctly, I’ll give you 10 bonus quiz points.”
Throughout that school year, Mr. Beczkiewicz endeavored to teach chemistry to his small class of pitiful students, many who were stoned when they arrived. Because the class was immediately following lunch, it was not uncommon to look around the class as Mr. Beczkiewicz spoke to see one or more students with their heads cradled in their arms on the lab tables, fast asleep. Yet Mr. Beczkiewicz never stopped teaching. Despite more of his class being asleep than not, he would pound his fist and say “I don’t care if you don’t learn anything about chemistry, but you WILL learn how to think.”
The lack of student appreciation did not squelch Mr. Beczkiewicz’s passion for teaching. And during that school year, he did teach me how to critically think. His gift of the ability to critically think profoundly changed my life. It took me many years to realize that the ability to critically think is far more of an anomaly than it should be. It took me even longer to appreciate how his gift had exponentially increased my potential. And for that priceless gift, Mr. Beczkiewicz, I am sincerely grateful. God bless you, where ever you are.