I had a terrible high school experience. I could write a book about it, but it would be R-rated. I try not to think about it too much. However, a few months ago, I let my mind return to that awful time and the one teacher there who changed my life for good. His name was Alec McVake and he was my PE teacher. He was tough but tender. He pushed us hard but he also pushed us on. I was in awe of his soccer skills and loved his coaching. I looked up to him so much, and admired his strong but gentle character.
I checked up the school website recently and, although it’s now 37 years since I left high school, he’s still teaching there. I couldn’t find an email address, but I sent a message to the school admin expressing how much I owe to him and asked the school admin to pass it on. I doubt it ever got to him, but I wanted to try and let him know how thankful I was for his example and kindness to me in the midst of a violent and abusive school culture. He changed my life. In fact, in some ways, he kept me alive.
Who’s the best teacher you’ve ever had? When we’re still at school, we’ll usually say the best teacher was the funniest, or the friendliest, or the most easy-going, or the one that gave least homework.
As we get older, and look back on our schooling, our answer to this question often changes to the teacher who changed our lives most. Maybe it was a teacher who pushed us to realize our potential, or who disciplined us away from bad attitudes or actions, or who inspired our interest in a life-changing subject, or made us look at the world in a whole new way, or helped us spiritually? Whoever and whyever, we feel deep gratitude for their influence upon us and we want to live up to their legacy.
But however much Mr McVake changed my life, no teacher changed my life more than Jesus. He’s taught me more than I’ve ever learned in my academic studies.