Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Greatest Gym Teacher


Last fall I went to see my best friend's son perform in a play at the same junior high school that we attended. Before the lights went down, I noticed a familiar teacher's name in the program. I asked my friend if she knew who he was, and she suggested that we talk to the principal after the play.

Her son stole the show, and I felt like a proud stage auntie. As a sixth grader, he came across quite cool and confident which were characteristics that his big man on campus character needed. This made me think about how I was anything but confident back in my junior high and grammar school days.

My least favorite class was always gym, but something changed when a new teacher came on the scene in third or fourth grade. His name was Mr. Lawson, and he always encouraged me to feel better about my lack of athletic prowess. He even set-up an after school program to help a handful of us work on our coordination.

He tried so hard to help me from tripping over my untied shoe laces, untangling me from a jump rope, and losing my pants while attempting a somersault on the trampoline.  He even went the extra mile by driving me home from school a few times. Mr. Lawson was more of a manny than a gym teacher to me, and he never lost his patience along the way.

After the play my dear friend introduced me to the principal, and I asked her if the set manager for the play was the same Mr. Lawson who taught at our grammar school over forty years ago. Not only was he my former gym teacher, but his daughter-in-law was in the audience.

I rushed over to tell her how her father-in-law tried so hard to make gym a fun experience, and how he always went out of his way for me. I got pretty choked up as I thought back on all of my stereotypical gym teachers who favored the athletes, and shunned the underdogs. It also didn't help that they took off points if you needed a little extra time in the locker room.

Mr. Lawson's daughter-in-law was very appreciative, and promised to tell him how much he meant to me. I was really hoping that I would've run into him that evening, but maybe it's better that he didn't see me run.


  1. Aw, what a lovely post, Julie. I remember my gym teachers - an evil bunch. Your Mr. Lawson sounds wonderful. A rare gem!

  2. I think we all have that one special teacher that makes all the difference to our journey at school... your Mr Lawson sounds really special...

  3. Why were all the gym teachers so mean! Some of my worst memories of middle school involve gym teachers. Glad you got one that treated you well. Gah! If they were only more aware of how long-term their influence, good or bad, can be on some people.

  4. There were two subjects I detested at school Gym and Poetry.
    I now love to walk miles along the beach and as for poetry you know the rest. Strange how times do change situations.

    Happy Easter.

  5. That is so cool. I've never met a gym teacher that had that type of patience. I'm sure he appreciated the kind words and that you remembered him!

  6. Sweet story. Love your writing. Have a great Easter.

  7. Good people usually make the best teachers. Your Mr. Lawson sounds like a good man. Happy Easter!

  8. He was someone who truly cared. You should go visit him sometime.

  9. Shirley - I wish I had been more appreciative at the time. Thanks Shirley!

    Michelle - So true!

    L.G. - It really would make a difference! Thanks L.G.!

    Yvonne - It is funny how our tastes change! We're all grateful that you enjoy poetry now!

    Dolores - Ditto!

    Libby - Even if he didn't remember me, I'm still glad that he knows that he was such a positive influence. Thanks Libby!

    Thanks Tonja and happy Easter to you and your family!

    Jackie - That's right and he's still doing what he loves! Happy Easter to you and yours Jackie!

    Alex - Sounds like a great idea!

    Happy Holidays to all! I'll be busy cooking, so if I don't get a chance today, I'll hop on over tomorrow! Julie

  10. Isn't it amazing how a teacher can make such a difference? I'm sure he loved hearing how much you appreciate and remember him all these years later.

  11. Nice tribute and cute stories.

    Happy A to Z!

    All on and all in the A to Z Challenge:

    Heart of a Ready Writer – Bible &Devotional
    Meme Express – Daily Blog Prompts (A to Z)
    Nickers and Ink – Featuring favorite classic poems from A to Z
    Practically at Home – See what fellow writers are cited – with article links!
    The Mane Point –Profiling special horses from A to Z
    Working in Words – Writing How-to’s

    Simply Snickers is not posting daily in the A to Z Challenge, but you are invited to comment with your A to Z/NaPoWriMo poetry links!

    Click my name/icon for links to all these blogs! Happy A-to-Z!

  12. Sounds like a great memory, glad you were able to reconnect!
    Good luck with the Challenge.

  13. I didn't have an actual "gym teacher" until junior high (7th grade). I didn't like gym before then, but at that point, I absolutely hated it.

    Ellie's Blank Book
    Ellie's Couch
    Help Michigan Pets

  14. Thanks Mary!

    Talli - It just felt right to finally let him know. Thanks Talli!

    Linda - Wow are you busy! Thanks for the visit and I'll see you soon!

    Shannon - Good luck with the challenge too!

    Eliza - I still don't know how I survived high school swim class!

    Happy Holidays to everyone! Julie

  15. "He even went the extra mile by driving me home from school a few times."
    Isn't it effed up that in today's society, a teacher wouldn't DARE do this?
    Lucky you that he had made such an impact on your life. I'm convinced this is why the good teachers are good teachers in the first place.

  16. What a great story! Teachers have a rough gig and it is wonderful that you got to let him know how much he meant to you. Lovely G post.

  17. Julie, I got happy goosebumps when I read this story. I had a teacher, Mr. Edmond, like that. He graded me based on effort vs delivery. Thankfully, this amounted to A's vs F's.

    I wish you and yours a wonderful Passover.

  18. Al - I was thinking the same thing as I was writing this, but you were the only one who commented on it! Because, I had trouble finding an appropriate gym teacher photo, sadly I decided to go with someone who looked a lot like I did in grammar school. Though I would've worn something that went with go-go boots, and would've been terrified of any animal. I hope you have time to come back and tell me who you think it is! Thanks Al!

    Lost - Great name and nice to meet you! Teachers do have one of the toughest jobs around, and I was happy to pass the message along! Thanks Lost Inside The Covers!

    Robyn - I wish more of my teachers had graded me based on effort! Happy Passover to you too Robyn!

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by and Happy Holidays!

  19. I wish I would have had Mr. Lawson! Gym was always a nightmare for me. This was such a great story, really made me smile. :)