Several years ago my dad was a math teacher at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. I never heard him say he was going to work, He said “I am going to school.” May dad was originally going to be a dentist, and would have been an excellent one. His love was teaching, and he was great at making a difference in a child’s life. He decided to change his major to high school mathematics, and never regretted this decision.
Every year on the first day of school he would write his full name up on the chalkboard in bold letters Melvin Cottam Fish, the kids thought that was hilarious. There was usually a long line of students trying to get into his class every semester because everyone knew they would learn math effectively, and he cared.
One year he had two opposing gang members in the same class, things were getting out of control, and he knew he needed to do something fast. One of the things he did was change his classroom around so his desk would face the door. As students entered his classroom each day, in his mind he would call each student by name and say “I love you.” My dad realized there was power in the words he spoke aloud, and in his mind.
At my dads funeral there were a few students that came to pay their final respects to their beloved math teacher. One of them told my mom that they didn’t remember all of their teachers names however they remember where they sat in their math class, and knew Mr. Fish loved them. What a great tribute to my father at his passing. I know he must have been smiling and sending us more love in that moment.
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