Mary Ellen Verona, one of my computer science teachers at MBHS, died on October 7. I remember when she left the school in 1994 to head up the MVHS project she’d worked to fund and create. Among other things, she taught a software design class that introduced me to object-oriented programming (in THINK Pascal). Few of my peers at Cornell were even remotely familiar with the topic during their introductory classes, which left me well prepared to say the very least.

On the outside, teaching in a public school is a rather strange career choice. All of my Magnet teachers were well-educated, most possessing postgraduate degrees in their fields of expertise. Yet the pay is low, the workload is high, and high school students are typically jaded to the routine of tests and homework. Even Magnet students. The reward is purely spiritual, from what I can tell; my best teachers all got a great sense of accomplishment from their work, once they waded through the detritus and tedium that come with the job. From the student’s perspective, I think true appreciation for their teachers only comes later in life. How could I have known, back in 3rd grade, that my teachers were actually observing me and finding ways to encourage my development? Hell, I didn’t even think much about it until I was a junior in high school. And even then, I didn’t see my time there as being much more than preparation for college, which in itself was preparation for…well, for something I didn’t know. It’s sad that I’m only now beginning to realize and appreciate the impact that my teachers had on my intellectual growth If I had the chance to redo some of my time in school, I’d surely take better advantage of the environment. Or is this the way it’s supposed to work?

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