As teacher appreciation day draws to a close, I want to reflect on why I became an educator. As a youngster, I felt drawn to ancient things, items and ideas. My mother and father, Pat and Al took me to museums, including the Buffalo Museum of Science. We traveled and visited history and science and technology, including the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology, the Shedd aquarium, and the Turtle, a now closed museum of Native American history and culture in Niagara Falls, NY. I wanted to become an an Egyptologist, or study the dinosaurs.
Later, in middle school, I wanted to work as a camp staff member, so I became the Southtown YMCA Buffalo NY branch CIT for say camp. Next year in 92, I became a CIT a Schoellkopf Scout Reservation, part of the GNFC BSA. From 93-95, I served as a camp staff member teaching merit badges in ecology, and enjoyed working with scouts on Mammal Study, Environmental Science, and Astronomy. It was here I learned the art of performance while instructing, and loved every minute of it. At the camp, I met my band of brothers, survived our teen aged years, and became the best damn group of leaders in our local OA Lodge. Herb, Nick J(my brother) Jim W. Greg S. and others you know that we planned two joint winter camp outs. Sixteen years old running events for 300-400 scouts and adults, and planning service weekends for over 300 at the local summer camps, all while managing a budget in the 10,000 dollar range. Not bad!
It was at Hamburg High school, with Mr. Cammerata, Mr. Gross, Dr. Duffner, Mr. Heffner, Mrs. Cichocki and Mrs. Russell that I learned that I could be a social studies teacher and work with high school students. Mr. Karpie in DECA helped me learn self-confidence and never surrendering. Mr. Don Mertz, one of the Role Play Judges for NYDECA spent time helping me tell a convincing story. I wound up falling in love with Fredonia, and went to school to learn to be an historian and Social Studies Major- to instill historical thinking and, like all the great teacher films – inspire someone.
At Fredonia, the Future Educators Club had a meeting with the inspiration for Dangerous Minds. I learned from some of the best in History- Dr. Tom Morrissey, Dr. Eileen Litwicki, Dr. Jackie Swansinger. From the school of education, I studied under Dr. Larry Maheady and Barb Mallette. Most importantly, I developed a deep respect for political scientist Dr. Laurie Buonanno. Dr. Buonanno asked me to TA for her Intro to Political Science class. I fell in love with teaching and tutoring students.
I became an educator to convey my love for social studies. I wound up enjoying working with students as they became confident adults and learned to utilize their critical thinking skills to begin to solve world problems. I feel myself blessed when former students contact me via facebook and say “thanks.” I may not have been cool, I probably wasn’t inspiring like Dead Poets society, and I have no musical talent like Mr. Holland in his opus, but I have realized that plaques, trophies and material items are no match than a simple “thanks” from a student.
This post is dedicated to my first teachers, Al and Pat Jakubowski, and my first classmates, Nick and Emily Jakubowski.