Can you ever thank a great teacher enough?


Since I have the (electronic) floor, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a (very belated) thanks to all the teachers and mentors who have had a profound influence on my life. Here are the truly great teachers that I have been privileged to know:
At Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, N.J., I was lucky enough to have Mr. Alan Bennett for English. Mr. Bennett took the time to nurture my fledgling interest in reading and literature. The books he suggested as optional reading opened up a whole new world for me. Though the curriculum required reading the classics such as Jane Eyre, Moby Dick and Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Bennett steered me toward more contemporary writers with messages that I could relate to. Immature as I was at the time, I never got a chance to thank him for his encouragement & guidance.
Also at Ridgewood High School, Ms. Sandra Grasso helped ignite my passion for chemistry. One of my strongest memories of her was that she was always smiling; clearly, teaching (and teaching chemistry) was fun for her. Again, I never got a chance to thank her for the positive influence she had in my life.

At Ramapo College of New Jersey, I also privileged to know:
Dr. Grace Borowitz, who taught organic chemistry, is one of the most gracious, caring, and forgiving professors I have ever met. Of all the professors I interacted with during my stay at Ramapo, she by far had the most influence on my career and on my life choices. Like Ms. Grasso, she was always smiling and had a marvelous sense of humor, even when events in the lab were, ahem, less than expected. I will always be grateful to her for the interest she took in my career both inside and outside of Ramapo.
Dr. Gabriel Rubinstein, who taught analytical chemistry, also displayed a marvelous combination of caring and patience as he watched his students make all the inevitable mistakes on their way to earning competency in the lab.
Dr. Ted Michelfeld, who taught general chemistry as well as inorganic chemistry, was also a pleasure to work with. Dr. Michelfeld graciously offered to help me get back up to speed with my organic chem skills after I had taken a long layoff from the sciences.
I would be remiss if I did not mention help I received from Dr. Robert Shine, who--even tough he was the department head--took as much time as I needed to talk with me about pursuing a degree in chemistry.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention Mr. Peter Scheckner, who taught history from a, ahem, different perspective.

At the University of Akron, I had the privilege of working with:
Mrs. Susan Schunk, who taught introductory French; she oversaw the classes that helped me fulfill my foreign-language requirement. Mrs. Schunk is one of those rare and gifted souls who demonstrated extraordinary patience, caring, and devotion. It was a pleasure to be part of her French classes, and, like a small group of very devoted students who took all 4 semesters of French with Mrs. Schunk, I almost wished I could forget everything I had learned just so we could take those classes all over again.
Dr. Claude Meade, also a French instructor, took over where Mrs. Schunk left off--with intermediate French classes. (It is interesting to note that all of Mrs. Schunk's former students sat together as a unit in Dr. Meade's class.) Dr. Meade, always ready with a joke or a laugh, continued the tradition Mrs. Schunk had started; because of his influence, I was sorely tempted to delay my graduation and continue on with my French classes.

Noteworthy for their absence from this list are my 2 research advisors at the University of Akron: Dr. Frank W. Harris and Dr. Irja Piirma. A great teacher can accomplish so very much; an indifferent, callous and harshly critical teacher can leave scars that last a lifetime. I sometimes wonder what my life, and my career, would have been like if either of my 2 research advisors had actually helped me.



I would love to hear from any of my professors! Please email me!
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