A Time to Give Thanks

IMG_1574It’s that time of year again! The time of the year when television is filled with Pillsbury biscuit commercials, depicting families eating a holiday dinner or the countless number of Walmart layaway commercials or Black Friday sales. No, we’re not quite to the ABC Family “25 Days of Christmas” special yet, but it’s Thanksgiving! All jokes aside, as cliché as it sounds, Thanksgiving is a great time to express how thankful you are for what you have. As a senior, looking back at my high school career, I can definitively say I’ve had some highs and some lows. I’ve experienced several accomplishments, but I’ve also had several disappointments.

In all, I’m thankful for both the accomplishments and the disappointments, because it has shaped the type of student I am today. Now if I sit here and try to list off the things I am thankful for, you, my readers, would probably get bored, and quite honestly I’d come off as some “holier than thou” type. So I’d like to take this time to discuss one class and one teacher in particular that I am thankful for.

My sophomore year I decided to take a combo history course: Advanced Placement World and European history.  The teacher that had originally taught the class had left the previous year and we were stuck with a new teacher. This teacher had never even taught an AP class before, so needless to say, we were all skeptical about what this class would be like. However, once this class started we realized that we had definitely underestimated our teacher. His name was Mr. Nelson Dean. He turned out to be one of the most fascinating teachers I knew. He could list out facts for just about anything. Mr. Dean stood in front of the room and lectured for ninety minutes a day. But his teaching methods did not stop there. As part of the AP curriculum, we had to learn to write different types of essays including: document based questions, compare and contrast, identifying continuities and changes over time, and free response questions. Throughout the course of that class, Mr. Dean had us write, at the very least, 20 to 25 different essays. I can’t remember a time in that class when my hand was not cramping from writing so much under a time limit. And the struggle did not end there, as his grading style was not easy either. I was so frustrated in that class, after spending hours studying to write an essay and either not finishing or not receive a great grade.

This frustration led to me seeking help from Mr. Dean. I would come into class early and ask as many questions as I could. I would write as many extra essays as I could, and have Mr. Dean read them and give me feedback. I would take notes religiously as he lectured for ninety minutes, and I even stayed after school to ask more questions. I stored everything he gave, every essay I wrote, or page of notes I took, in this giant binder (oddly labeled by my classmates as the course bible). The amount of time I spent in that room exhausted me. I had never worked so hard for anything before. And Mr. Dean was there to help me every step of the way. It was because of this class that every other AP history course seemed fairly easy compared to his. It was because of this class that I know how to write well (and can proudly say, I can finish a DBQ on time!).

But you see, it wasn’t just the work I put into that class that made it so memorable (not to mention enjoyable), it was the atmosphere in all. I had a great class and made friends that I may not have otherwise; friends, who have been there through my ups and downs. We all thought Mr. Dean was a great teacher, not just because he proved to be some astonishing genius as he lectured, but because he genuinely seemed to enjoy teaching us. And, I don’t think Mr. Dean knows how much of an impact his class had on me or the rest of my classmates. Other students may just see it as an ordinary class, but his class was the first time I experienced struggling with a subject and my grade. And all the time he was willing to spend helping me and my other classmates, as well as the way that class ended up pushing me harder than I’d ever been pushed before. He may not know this either, but it encouraged me more than anything that I could get through hard times, even if it was just some class, because I saw it in a bigger context to my personal experiences.

So, if you’re reading this Mr. Dean, I thank you for that.

Jasmin Kamruddin, 2014 College Match applicant