Over the years I have noticed in talking with friends that many people have had somebody in their life they called “Mr. R” or “Mrs. R”. Typically this person was some authority figure, usually a teacher, and was memorable in some way.
I’ve had both a Mr. AND a Mrs. R. Both were teachers. Mr. R was my 6th grade math teacher. He had an incredible knack for getting kids to care about math (or at least pass the tests). His classroom was very laid back with sofas and bean bag chairs. He once bet me a soda I couldn’t teach my friend the 7 and 8 times tables by the end of class—a bet he knew I would win. He organized a group of student volunteers to go into the poorer inner-city schools and adopt a math buddy that we tutored once a week for an entire school year. He helped a group of students, including me, advance to algebra a year early, fighting the necessary administrative battles and so forth. As it turns out that program (our program!) is now a standard option for students at that school. Mr. R made me care and challenged me and was by FAR the coolest public school math teacher I ever met. He really made us feel a part of something and that we could do great things and make a difference.
I had a chance to talk to Mr. R not too long ago, and sure enough, he has kept track of all his students, and many of them have continued on to, well, do great things and make a difference.
Mrs. R was a choir director and drama teacher. She was supportive and cared very much about the quality of the things she directed. She also had a hell of a temper. I can remember at least 5 or 6 complete, ranting, screaming meltdowns within the one year I had her. She was a tough lady with a bit of a military background. But if you did your part and did your best, she would pretty much let you do whatever. I would show up for choir first period and be dead tired from having stayed up all night and she never yelled at me for sleeping. She let me choose whatever song I wanted to sing for the choir concert solos and encouraged me to try out for theater. In spite of her legendary temper, Mrs. R really influenced me to get more into acting and singing and she gave me a lot of self confidence along the way.
So, beloved teacher, angry play director, or quirky boss, or something else entirely… who was your Mr./Mrs/Dr./Etc. R?