Hail, the Conquering Hero!

Boris2I am thankful for Joe Boris, a history/sociology teacher at State College Area High School. He is retiring this year, after 40 years at State High. The number of students he’s touched is in the tens of thousands and there isn’t one who knows Joe at all that doesn’t love him. Or at least will admit to it.

He was one of the most popular teachers back in my day (I graduated in ’80) and his reputation with students and colleagues alike has only grown stronger over the years. He has always put the students first…OK, maybe second after his wife.

His “trick” for connecting, motivating, challenging, and changing students’ lives? Trust. You knew you could talk to ┬áhim about anything and he’d listen. He’d give you wisdom if you wanted it…or ┬áneeded it. He’d help plan out a prank; he’d figuratively hold your hand if you pushed the envelope too far and needed to face the music.

He is a man of faith. Faith in God. Faith in his colleagues. Faith in himself. Faith in his students–and be sure to know that if you went to State High, you were his student, whether or not you actually took any of his classes.

I can easily say that my life is richer for having known him.

We’ll miss ya, Joe! Enjoy the garden!

Learning and Experience

I am thankful for my nephew who seems to have learned a bit of something from experience. He wasn’t cooperative regarding the limits his mother placed on his technology, so there were numerous consequences designed to help him learn.

As the sysadmin for our little network, that meant a lot of extra doing for me. I hadn’t done much of any of that kind of stuff in over a decade and a lot has evolved since then.

The flip side is that I got my fingers in that technical pie again, just a little bit, and was able to keep (almost) every one happy. I did one specific gig as a travel agent, making certain I gave my nephew a nice little guilt trip because of all the additional work he gave me to play the bad guy and all the frustration he gave his grandmother because the network mods I made to keep him honest caused other network issues that inconvenienced his grandmother (and mother for that matter). He wasn’t impressed by the inconvenience, so I talked at him about relationships and bargaining chips and the fact that his current behavior and choice patterns weren’t earning him any points with the two most important women in his life–the two that had so much control and veto power.

It took a while and I thought I saw a light bulb. Today I learned that he had worked out something with his mother about helping him maintain the boundaries she set–he’s actually been handing his electronics over to her at night! (So glad I was already sitting down…)

Maybe some seed I planted really did take root…


Being Challenged

I am thankful for the opportunity to be challenged, being “forced” to stretch my comfort zones. And I am thankful for the opportunity to help challenge others in a similar fashion. It really rocks to be able to do both at the same time! That’s what mentoring is all about for me.

One of “my” students made a pretty bold, potentially controversial post to Facebook not too long ago, linking to another site that posted opposing views. I was glad to see some glimmer of sound logical process in the views this student posted. Disagreed with several points, but that’s ok. What I’m more interested in is the thinking process that’s developing. I’ve asked this student for an opportunity to get together to dig deeper into that process, look at the argument pro/con in greater detail, looking at the underpinnings, the hidden & not so hidden agendas and trying to filter out as much of the heated rhetoric (aka flame wars) as possible to do so.

I really hope the challenge is accepted. What I like most is that this student is asking some really good questions and that’s the fire I want to feed. I believe in many things (as do we all) and one of them is the Sacredness of Questioning Everything. (Shout out to David Dark for his book with this title. I highly recommend it.) I also believe that there Are Answers to these Questions and I know Who has them. I almost wish He would make the answers a bit easier to get to. Almost. The joy is in the journey, most of the time, and the reward is all the sweeter, the summit vista all the more beautiful for a challenging climb to the top to see it.