My High School English Teacher, The Lunatic Genius

It’s fair to say that my writing talents went unnoticed and almost completely unutilized until my senior year of high school. It was my senior year in which for whatever reason, my high school English teacher hand-selected me into the Honors English class along with a small handful of other carefully selected students.

My English teacher at the time was a prime example of an aging hippie, left over from the 1960’s who only stayed in college to avoid getting drafted into the Vietnam War. He told me that he became an English teacher simply out of necessity and that while in college, he experimented with drugs and alcohol because a professor befriended him and always awarded straight-A grades to his students to help them avoid military drafting, which at the time had gotten out of control during the height of the war.

He was a minimalist who only owned 4 changes of clothing, of which he would wash my hand whenever he was away from home. He encouraged me to write, and once told me in private that I was the only one he really wanted in his class, and that everyone else was there out of necessity.

I clearly recall one time going on what I thought would be just a simple leisurely jog around campus with my English teacher seemed like a welcome alternative to an all-afternoon athletic period turning into an all-out 7-mile run through mountain roads once used for logging, followed by a sprint up an abandoned ski hill. After I completed the nearly 9-mile run, I collapsed at the top of the hill and was shocked to learn that the 20 of us in the group were now going to play an ultimate Frisbee game for the duration of the afternoon.

When he wasn’t teaching, my teacher was outside making the most of the great outdoors, in his own very strange and misunderstood way. Because of his minimalist approach to life, and conservation of resources, whenever he needed to go anywhere, he would walk or run to the destination, while the remainder of us would travel by car or bus.

Although my high school English teacher led a very unusual lifestyle, his teachings were brilliant, and he would offer teaching and advice even outside the classroom. The brilliant lessons I was taught were without question some of the most crucial to my eventual career path as a writer, some 10 years after high school graduation.


  • Meldred Judith

    It’s not everyday that you meet a person like his teacher. His lessons in life are good for one’s growth.

  • Wilson Jake

    “private that I was the only one he really wanted in his class, and that everyone else was there out of necessity”…wow this words would have blown your head off… but seriously lunatic, running or walking to conserve resources. That’s too huge to shew.

  • conrad pranze villas

    It is hard to come across such teacher nowadays. I will surely cherish such person in my life, unfortunately I have not came across such person in my life.

  • Mariz Tina Mispeñas

    The teacher is making the most in his life. He is as to what mentioned an example of a minimalist person. However he is also at the same time knows who to appreciate especially amongst his students. He can see who will prosper and who will stay in the sidelines.

  • Maury Cheskes

    It’s great that you had such a deep connection with this teacher. I’m sure that being selected for the Honors English class and his words of affection were very humbling. Looking back, I think we all have specific role models that changed our lives forever.

  • esgyll

    Teachers really make up for some of those who would choose their own career paths in life, aside from getting inspired by parents, friends, or famous people. These kinds of teachers really make education fun and worthwhile, and it is also something that not all a lot of teachers can do. You are so lucky to have met one so awesome.

  • Alex

    We always have that teacher that will teach us something that is life changing. Mine was in college. I will always remember how she taught me something that goes beyond the corners of a school.

  • jolly555

    lovely history you have here and memorable idea of your English teacher.. I love your writings and I’m sure your teacher is proud of you too.

  • Prince

    “he would walk or run to the destination, while the remainder of us would travel by car or bus”….seriously I now understand where the caption came from. How could a genius act this way, its beyond resources conservation.

  • Clarissa

    I’m sure your teacher is proud of you for your successful writings. We all have that one best teacher who taught us the best things in life, not just in school but even outside.

  • Danielle M

    I’m glad that the positive experience with your English teacher helped you to writte the way you do Tom.

  • Mark Janeo

    It’s only one out of every odd day that you meet an individual like his instructor. His exercises in life are beneficial for one’s development.

  • Roy

    Your English teacher must have had a good eye for talent to identify you at such a young age. I guess you’ve always had in you

  • Patricia

    This piece is a good exhibition of how a good writer you are. I couldn’t get my eyes away from the screen while reading it.

  • Oliver

    Many people give up halfway and never realize their full potential. I applaud you for never giving up even after all these years.

  • Teddy

    I found the part about your teacher being awarded straight A’s to avoid being drafted for the war amusing. Life must have been so different back then.

  • Shantel

    I find people who lead minimalist lives very inspiring. Steve Jobs also led a very minimalist lifestyle.

  • Anderson

    Thanks so much for sharing the story of your English teacher. I can see how he inspired you to become who you are today.

  • Storm

    I wish I could sing such praises about my English teacher. Let’s just say she wasn’t the best of teachers haha

  • Sylvia

    Indeed your English teacher was a lunatic genius. There is a thin line between crazy and genius. Your teacher sure blurred that line.

  • Glad

    Sometimes, it is those who teaches a person that sees the potential in that individual. It is good thing that your English teacher saw your potential and helped you build on it.

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