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Until We Meet Again, Ben Walker

So I just learned that one of the administrators in my high school, Ben Walker, passed away today.

Maybe I last saw him 15-17 years ago, but this is still a very sad event for me. This is perhaps because I believe that high school for me was such an important experience and it played a big role in forming the person I am today. There are 4 teachers/administrators in high school I owe a lot to for never giving up on me even as I grew restless (and maybe occasionally rebellious) in high school:
  • Dr. Coulter - who gave coaching and guidance to a tenth grader who was often tempted to settle for the ordinary
  • Mr Gordon - my English teacher and a great listener
  • Mr. Seto - who helped fan the internationalist flame in me through a little after-school programme called Model United Nations which literally would change my live in ways which would require a separate blog entry; and
  • Mr Walker - the international studies coordinator who sparked the flame of me getting a world view by helping me spend a summer with a host family in France when I was 17.
I have great memories of Mr Walker giving me lots of advice and guidance when I wasn't sure about something. In high school I actually held 2 jobs my Junior and Senior year - an after school internship during the days and working at a movie theatre on some nights because I felt working was a more productive use of my time after I would finish my school work. I specifically remember when I was working too much and I would come to school tired. He reminded me that that stage in my life was about studying, not working. And that helped me to decide to take up Model UN. He was instrumental in me getting to France for the summer as part of an exchange programme. The programme was very expensive and he managed to help secure money to pay for a significant part of my trip because he believed in opportunity for all. And when I returned from Paris, he had the wisdom to see that my mind had opened up to the world around me and instead of considering his job done from the perspective of his job role, got me to talk to Mr Seto and then get involved with Model UN which got me to Bentley University which led to IBM which led to Sweden. I can chart my life's journey by the people who guided me.

In today's public school environment, there are too few teachers and administrators like Mr Walker and the ones I experienced at Snowden. People like Mr Walker chose to see the best in us, the potential in us, and help us to believe in ourselves as much as they believe in us. I write out a sense of sadness but also of heart-felt appreciation. I consider myself fortunate and blessed to have known him. And his passing is a reminder that the best way to honor his memory is to look for the best people and help them to believe in themselves and that enabling them to do something successfully is an important measure of your success as a person.

Alors, Monsieur Walker, je ne vais pas dire au revoir. Je vais dire "until we meet again."

With the kindest and warmest of regards //Rodney

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