Teachers make us who we are.
We do what we do because teachers showed us possibility.
They expected more of us. They asked us questions. They showed us new ways of looking at information, the world, ourselves. New ways of asking our own questions. They taught us how to think.
In high school, I had the perfect storm of three classes that changed my life.
1) ENGLISH LITERATURE: Critical thinking and eloquent writing are learned skills. Practiced craft. My opinion matters. Thank you, Patricia Maier.
2) PSYCHOLOGY: Understanding people is about patience, asking the right questions, listening, observing, and maintaining objectivity. Thank you, Elaine Engelberg.
3) MYTHOLOGY: Art is the greatest expression of humanity. In all its forms. Classical to contemporary. The Odyssey to The Simpsons. Thank you, Michael Fiveash.
I am a Music Manager. I studied English and Philosophy at Tufts. Chicano Studies at UC Berkeley. Business and International Marketing at Simmons School of Management. I was an advertising executive before starting my own company. We make and promote music. We support creators and thinkers and dreamers and lyricists and song makers. I can’t imagine doing any of this without those three lessons.
I am also now a teacher in the Music department at Northeastern University. I am always aware of the great responsibility in this, but never more so than today – upon hearing of a great educator’s passing.
I would be a different person had I not been taught by Doctor Fiveash.
I would be a different manager, reader, thinker, feeler, listener, teacher, citizen.
I am often reminded how lucky I was to go to Lexington High School in Massachusetts. A public school that employed committed educators like these three. Teachers who expected excellence, and modeled it in their actions, in their expressions, in their lessons. A school system that saw fit to invest in class topics that went beyond the “usual” curriculum – and inspired students to carve our own unique paths in college and beyond.
I know my path was paved with an alchemy of these classes and many others. Yet Fiveash lessons stand out, and return to me in unexpected moments as I do my work of today. I still pause when I see epithets, and think fondly “ahhh, the grey eyed goddess” – they stand like yield signs as I merge on my way. I still marvel at allusions to ancient art in today’s pop culture, and savor when animated movies, video games and tv shows wink and nod to classical myths and characters. I still stop and break monster tasks down when I get overwhelmed, take them in sections, do the work to figure each out, slog through to reassemble them, and celebrate the revelations that come of that demystification process. (It’s always worth it!) And most of all, I am reminded that the fun IS the challenge. That all our minds are capable. There is room for everyone. That expecting more of myself and others IS the only way forward.
In short, the man made a difference.