Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Merely a Grasshopper

Today I am going to write a tribute to my mostest favoritest teacher of all time. He was actually never MY teacher but the things he and his family taught me were more valuable and helpful in my life than anything I've learned in the classroom. Today's post is dedicated to the one: the only: Mr. Strecker.
When I started Jr. High our principal was kind of a push over. He let the kids in our school do things like hold hands in the hallways and (gasp) wear tank tops. If you got sent to the principal's office you got a little lecture and were sent on your way. When I was in 8th grade we got a new principal. *dun Dun DUN!* On the first day of school that year we had the usual all school assembly. In our small town all school meant 7th grade through seniors, this was about 100 kids all together. Mr. Strecker introduced himself and wasted no time laying down some new rules. First off there would be a strict "hands off" policy in school. No touching! Second there would be a dress code; no inappropriate clothing of any kid. This was an outrage!  My fiend Brian coughed the word "bullshit" and Mr. Strecker didn't even ask if he had heard Brian right, he just kicked him out and gave him in-school suspension!!! I swear, it was like we were staring right at the male version of Miss Viola Swamp! (If you don't remember who she is, google her)
But alas, I love crabby old people (when I was 13 Mr. Strcker was considered old...now that I am over 30 I have sense changed that ruling) so I knew right away I would love Mr. Strecker. I just needed to find his weakness. I set to work right away and he proved to be much less of a challenge than I had expected. His weakness was as simple as a twinkle of the eye. If you wanted to cause mischief all you had to do was smile and show the evil gleam in your eye and he turned into an ornery kid right along with you. My friends and I would sit by him and his wife at basketball games just to hear his comments about the other teams. The little kids I babysat for would instantly look at him like a grandpa. He would speak in French to them and laugh at their sweet confused faces. He had a great big smile and a great laugh and the little kids ate him up. I would beg him to call down to Mrs. Dlabel's math class and have her send me and my best friend Tara to the office so we could get out of math and listen to him tell stories of his family and past teaching jobs. When he would get a call from someone important he rarely made us leave the room but would put the phone down on the desk and make us laugh then pick the phone up again and talk as if he was listening the whole time. It was the first time I had ever met an adult that could be respected and taken seriously but could have so much fun at the same time. He taught me not to take life so seriously. He also taught me that it's not being "fake" when you're behaving as you should when you should only to turn around an have some mischievous fun when the time is right.
The biggest obsicle in my life so far was when my first husband and I were in a terrible accident and spent months in the hospital.  It was the attitude that Mr. Strecker and his family had shown me that let me laugh at the things we were going through. I would laugh at some of the things Danny did (like thinking he was getting totally drunk on...MILK) and I was free to not feel guilt about laughing at him or our situation. I knew I loved him and I knew what mattered; and having fun while we were there so he could learn how to...oh... eat...talk and walk was one of the only things that kept me hopeful. A good attitude and the grace of God.
One of my dearest friends recently described me like this; "Sarah, who makes no excuses whatsoever for herself.....she can insult a person while simultaneously charming them....You see, Sarah is not blonde, so she has to rely on things like actual humor and intelligence to get her by. I know. I feel sorry for her too. But don't expect her to feel like life cheated her out of anything." This is EXACTLY how I would describe my dear Mr. Strecker,  I am merely the cute young grasshopper and he was my teacher. <3