02.09.2016 – Day 245
It Took 43 Years to Say, “Thank you!”
I’ve been waiting for this day for years! Thanks to the wonders of technology, some lucky timing, and perhaps a dash of fate, I had the chance to say, “Thank you.” to a teacher that I’ve been wanting to acknowledge for years.
I was in grade six at St. Benedict’s Catholic School in what was then called, Rexdale (now Etobicoke), Ontario. I was about 11 years old, shy, physically awkward, and unsure of myself and my abilities. But I was sure that at some level I loved language. I loved being read to. I loved stories. I loved to read to myself. I was still too shy to enjoy reading out loud to others, but books made easy friends.
Of the two grade six classes that began that September, I got lucky enough to have Mr. Joe Croteau as my teacher for the entire year. He was the type of teacher who was “all in”. He loved kids. He was intelligent. He was passionate. He was enthusiastic. He was huge-hearted. He had an obvious love of teaching and for language. It was the latter that he passed along to me.
We get one, possibly two or three, of this type of teacher in our lifetimes and I am still thankful that I had Mr. Croteau to tell, explain, demonstrate, and inspire me at such a young age.
He made sure that even at 11, his class became well-versed in the foundations of English grammar.I seem to recall that every day, we actually spent at least 30 minutes reading, learning, and doing exercises from the small, purple, paperback book, “Grammar is Important”. I still have mine today.
I also credit Mr. Croteau’s going the extra mile and teaching beyond the curriculum as the reason I have such an obvious appreciation for the language along with strong grammar and sound writing skills today.
And speaking of today, this Friday, the 2nd of September, 2016, a few days before my 54th birthday, some 43 years later, I had the chance to finally tell him how much this has meant to me over the years. In a conversation over Facebook, we shared memories, a glimpses into our lives as they are today, but most importantly I got the chance to finally tell him how much his influence affected me in the long term. How his dedication and inspiration in teaching beyond the curriculum and looking for opportunities for learning fun (I still remember him teaching us how to make donuts) and his commitment to every child in that class to send them off to grade 7, smarter, more sure of themselves, and better people than they were when they first walked through his doors.
His influence has seen me through my career in marketing and communications, the writing of my novel, my passion for blogging and social media and for open expression and communications in general.
Joe Croteau, you are an amazing man, an inspirational teacher and I hope many of the students whose lives your have surely influenced have the chance to say a humble, “thank you.” You have definitely made a difference in our lives and isn’t that exactly what motivated you to become a teacher in the first place?
Thanks for being mine!