Monday, October 10, 2005

Dear Mr. Simendinger

I wanted to say thank you for having been such a good teacher. Thank you for having been such an inspiration, and for having taught me so much about both art and what I wanted to do with my life. You made me consider pursuing art a career, but supported me anyway when I told you that I wasn't going to be preparing portfolios to apply to art schools, but instead essays for universities. After about an hour of discussion, you supported me in that decision. Your class was the one I looked forward to for those last two periods of the day, and your sense of dry humor was one of the best I knew at the high school. You never took bullshit and you treated the students in your classes like adults. Thank you, I appreciated that so much. You always reached out to the kids who needed reaching out to and you sincerely cared about us.

It's been two years and some months since I last really saw you and spoke with you, but it's weird--your presence really has stuck with me. I loved your class and I talk about it with Nick Ciambro and Carolyn Frederick a lot when I see them. I'll always remember listening to the radio in your class, and how you said the first day we could listen to music--as long as you liked it. You also treated 9/11 with the most respect and the most proper reaction of my teachers. We spent almost the entire two periods watching television and talking, while most teachers were trying to move on through class awkwardly, allowing a few minutes here and there for discussion and continuing on as otherwise noted. I really appreciated that you gave us some time to think and talk those last two periods of the day.

Did you know your wife delivered my family's mail when I was little? I used to leave her flowers in the mailbox with notes. I'm thinking of your little girls, and I remember thinking they were so lucky to have such a cool dad like you. Maybe it was that weird jealousy that made us, your students, start calling you "Uncle Gary." I was thinking of you in my global media class last week. Instead of taking notes and listening to lecture, I was drawing my initlas. You had helped me come up with my design for that project and made me work so hard--and then gave me a B+. Not quite neat enough for an A. That's okay because I learned more about neatness and practicality in Commercial Art than any other class at the high school...and I was even required to take Health!

I think I swore you to hell the night I was up til 5:30 am drawing the architectural plans for my one-bedroom loft cabin and rendering the 3-dimensional design of the bedroom. Then, when I got up at 7 am, skipped my first classes and finished it up, I was so happy with my final product, I took it all back. :) But I think I told you that already, that day I turned it in.I am writing this letter to say goodbye and thank you. It's selfish of me, but I feel guilty I never dropped by to say hi to you at the new high school. I remember seeing you with a student the one time I was there. I didn't want to interrupt--you looked like you were working intensely with this kid, you were full of energy for the job and full of hope for him. That's what we loved about you. So now I want to say thank you, Mr. Simindinger, for having been such a great inspiration to so many Lebanon High School students for so many years. We'll miss you.

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