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I chuckled when I heard Mayor Scrima say Duane Stein put Waukesha on the map. I caught myself because no one else was laughing. What I first thought was a joke probably couldn't be truer. As the Waukesha West Academic Decathlon coach who brought students to Nationals ten years in a row, winning in 2002 as the first Division II school to do so, he proved to the country we take our students and education very seriously.
The retirement roast for Mr. Stein was Saturday and it got me thinking. Did I ever thank him for teaching me many years ago at North? As it is with most of my previous teachers, the answer is no.
Why did the roast leave me with this feeling? Teachers know their appreciated, don't they? Some students give them cards, I hope?
I've been busy! Have a family, home and job. Our last child graduates North in a couple weeks, yet have we given any thought to thanking the teachers?
Mr. Stein was an odd duck, maybe that's why I'll always remember him. He broke the mold to teaching English and shaped us to our own unique selves. I enjoy reading and writing and once aspired to be a writer. I can thank my dad and mom, but the people educating me deserve most of the accolades.
Mr. Stein's English class was like none other. Now, this was a long time ago; a different atmosphere in school. We were assigned to pair up with another student for class skits. (Will never forget the skit in which two girls wore swim fins and walked in acting like a duck.) My friend and I tried to mimic Mr. Stein in our impromptu skit. I stood on my head on top of the table. My friend proceded to roll and light a cigarette - in class. Now, I don't know if Stein ever stood on his head on a tabletop or smoked a cigarette. . . that's not the point. He didn't send us to the principal's office. He allowed and encouraged free expression. Didn't yell. Probably just laughed.
I'm coming up on five years blogging. I enjoy the free expression. If you've enjoyed the blog keep reading, but don't thank me, thank a teacher!
Twenty-three members of the Messmer High School choir showed appreciation to Mr. Stein for 37 years of teaching.