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Via Facebook I learned of the passing of one of my favorite high school teachers. His name was Nick Scallion.
And yes, he lived to a ripe old age! He was 81. That would have put him in his mid-40s when I had him for driver's education.
We did not have driver's education online at my Appalachian high school. And Mr. Scallion did not teach by today's model, which is basically let the students teach the class while you stand back and watch. Oh no. Mr. Scallion was an ex-Marine, and as a driver's ed teacher, he had you just where he wanted you. No backtalk to the guy who stands between you and the open road!
Sometimes I think of Mr. Scallion when I'm teaching. Sometimes I think of him when I'm driving.
I remember him when I am observed by an administrator who chides me for "too much teacher talk." All Mr. Scallion did was talk. He talked for 45 minutes, day after day. We listened and took notes. Ah, well, there were days when he didn't talk. Those were the days when he showed instructional movies like "Mechanized Death" and "Your Car, Your Coffin." I guess I don't need to share the plots of those films, except to say that I sometimes recall them when in heavy moving traffic on I-95.
Actually, Mr. Scallion was a good model of talking teacher. Yes, he lectured and harangued. But he did it with pizazz. Personality. He had vim and vigor, created by competitive tennis and being a basketball coach. Lady readers, I am not exaggerating. He looked like Paul Newman, right down to the blue eyes.
So, who is not going to listen to an engaging and energetic (albeit stern) lecturer who looks like Paul Newman? Dude could have been teaching bog biology, I still would have been riveted.
But what he taught was driving. He taught it well. If you screwed up behind the wheel, he yelled at you. Everyone knew it and tried hard not to screw up. (Another teacher faux-pas these days: yelling. You have to maintain a safe and secure learning environment. Scallion would have quit before doing that.)
This is the kind of bragging that I hardly dare to do, especially given the fact that I live in, and drive in, a major metropolitan area. But it's the truth. As of today, October 21, 2010, I have never been in a serious automobile accident. I have zero points on my license.
Yes, that could change tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that. If you see this blog post, and nothing but, for the next three months, just figure that I tempted fate by bragging on my driving abilities.
But am I really doing that? How much of my driving was influenced by stern Mr. Scallion, who lectured, yelled, and flunked anyone who didn't do so much as one homework assignment?
Mr. Nicholas Scallion, may you have found the Summerlands. May you have found a high-octane dragon and highly competitive tennis faeries. Put it in drive and head home. Blue eyes.