Saturday, June 20, 2009

What we got here is... failure to communicate.

Last night, my first ever best friend Christine and I walked into Dick O Dow’s in downtown Birmingham to show our respect and love for the greatest teacher at Mercy High School, Mr. Tom Schusterbauer. I expected to see old teachers and classmates, to share some smiles and hugs, give my congratulations to Schuste, and be on my way. I did not expect what actually happened: to be overwhelmed by the feeling of “home”. It was a little awkward at first, crammed into the back room of an Irish pub with people I haven’t seen in four years. However, just a few of the first smiles cracked at two old friends, Emily and Emily, broke any tension or nervous feelings. Being in that room felt like coming home after being away a long time- everyone there was so genuinely happy to see each other, cared about what you were up too, and meant it when they said “it was SO good to see you”.

I was able to mingle with a handful of girls who graduated with me, which is always awesome. We shared stories about what we were up to, memories of high school, who we are still in contact with. Each of them mentioned something about me being their connection to Mercy still, which made me feel really proud.

You may have read a few posts back when I talked about Mercy and my favorite teachers: Schusterbauer, Campbell, Rozman, Kowalski, and MacLennan. Of the five that I mention, I was blessed to be able to see three of them last night.

While I did not get a chance to talk with Mrs. Rozman, I will be sending her a note shortly to let her know that she is the reason I chose this field. She was my psychology teacher in high school, made me love the subject and interested in learning about people’s minds, how they work, and how to help people. I watched her interact with present and past students, it is obvious that she has made the same impact on them as she has with me.

Madame Campbell, my French teacher, greeted us with a hearty “bonjour!” before she wanted to hear all about what we were up to. She was so excited to hear about me doing Mercy Volunteer Corps, bragged about one of her former students and a good friend of mine who is studying abroad in France. I love that woman so much!!!!

Finally, the man of the hour…Mr. Schusterbauer. I’ve known about this guy since I was in fourth grade, my sister was a freshman and I would hear the stories about her amazing English teacher. He inspired her to get into writing, for a while she was sure that she would be a journalism major. Last night, as I was leaving his party, he gave me a hug and said “how’s your sister? Tell her I said hi. ..” (KEEP THAT IN MIND). When I was at Mercy, it took me a while to be able to have him as a teacher- but it came at a perfect time. I had Schuste the first semester of my senior year for a class called “Lit into Film”, where we would read a novel, analyze it and be tested on it, and then watch a film that was either made from the book or had themes that related to the book- we would pick apart every scene and discuss the importance of each angle, shot, dialogue, costume, etc. It was the most amazing class I’ve ever had...probably the hardest one too. While Schuste always made class fun and interesting, he is a tough teacher. He is an incredible writer and extremely intelligent man, so he had high expectations for his students. He challenged us, he taught us how to write and to comprehend both books and movies, but most of all, and he taught us about life. He really got us ready for the world, using metaphors and themes from materials in class to apply to our own lives. Last night’s party proved what a spectacular person he is. The room was full of smiling faces, all there in support of him. He has made an everlasting impact on his students, co-workers, family, and friends. Mercy will not be the same without him that is for sure. I will never forget the lessons I learned in his class…or the life lessons that he taught and continues to teach me (via his facebook notes) to this day. When I was a freshman in college, my English teacher asked me where I went to high school, because my writing and grammar were so much better than the rest of my class. I smiled, thought of Mr. Schusterbauer, and answered “Mercy”. Thank you, Mr. Schusterbauer, for being an incredible teacher and touching the hearts of so many.
Fast forward to tonight. My sister was unable to make it last night, but I did tell her Schuste’s message. Tonight I went to dinner and to see “The Proposal” (Amazing movie) with Alex, my sister, and Lauren. In between dinner and the movie, we had some time, so we were walking around downtown Birmingham…my sister and I were talking about Schuste’s party, I look up and who do I see walking down the sidewalk? Mr. Schusterbaur. I kid you not. It was fate. We walked up to him, and he was just “oh my god! I just asked about you!” it was so cute. I believe that may be the last time I see Mr. Schusterbaur, and I am glad it was with my sister, sine he has inspired us both more than he knows.

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PS: Anyone who can guess what movie the title of this blog is from will get a special surprise. No googling.


Shari said... Add Reply

He sounds like such a special man!! It's always such an amazing thing when someone can have such a profound impact on your life like that. I can tell he's had that impact not just on you, but on so many. What a great person ... and the picture is wonderful! :)

WillKnott said... Add Reply

This is so kind. And you write extremely clearly and well by the way. But the most important thing I tried to teach all of you--to lead with your heart and your true voice--is what is most evident in your lovely note here.

And I do agree that it was amazing to see both of you the next day in the park on what was an achingly beautiful, especially lovely night.

Let me know what--via facebook-- your plans are now that you have your degree. And the last line is the only thing I quarrel with. I do not think it will be the last time we will see one another. For one thing, I tend to have fake retirement parties each year just because that one was so much fun. Not really; I just think we will see each other again.

With love and much thanks.