Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » I have known many artists, here are three.


I have been very fortunate in my life to have known many artists. Of course, I am using the term as Seth Godin uses it in his book "Linchpins." He describes the artist as the person who gives away out of generosity. These people are found in any of the many industries and organizations. They are the linchpins. I could name many that I have met, but I will reflect upon three of them in my life that are living here in Victoria.

The first was my 7th and 8th grade English teacher. He could have sat behind his desk, feet on the chair, and acted the part of a teacher. I do not ever recall him doing any of these. In fact, how many shirts did he ruin because he was teaching us how to write? He stood at that overhead projector, hours on end, and when he looked for a place to put the pen, he chose his pocket. Often times, the lid was not on so the pen bled onto his shirt. But we didn't write much in that class. Well, at least not sentences. We learned to write. It was the basics, the foundation that would lead to the next two English teachers in a few moments. How does a junior high school student learn this necessary skill of communication? Well, it took nights on end and thousands of sentences of diagramming. Of course, back then I hadn't noticed how this was going to help me. I definitely noticed it in college and graduate school when many of my peers were struggling with grammar and composition and I seemed to become the classroom expert to review papers. I was not nearly the expert, as you can tell from my prior blog posts. I would like to say that blogging is a different genre of writing. I am conversing with you, it is my dialogue with you. However, this artist still has the incredible effects on students. I have met some of his apprentices, and I am blow away by their desire to hunt, to dig deeper into the search of knowledge. He had moved onto high school teaching since my junior high days. I know that East and West campuses are equal in offerings and buildings, but where that teacher goes to teach will definitely unequalize the schools!

Enter high school. My freshman year at St. Joseph continued to provide another meeting with another artist, my English teacher. I was never really strong in English, so I one took one English Honors according to my transcript. Back then, maybe still today, to take honors meant an extra 6 points to your final grade. According to my freshman mind, "I got jipped." My teacher mainly taught seniors, including their honors classes. I don't think she adjusted the class for her non-honors freshmen. So I had a teacher that wanted honors results withouth the extra points added to my grade. However, I learned way more than an extra six points and her preparation eventually taught me to write. She was also my senior English teacher and in that class she created so many people that learned how to write college level papers. From learning MLA writing, to composition, to contextual writing, her magic prepared me to be superior to many of my college peers. Her analysis of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" still lingers in my mind, in particular the theme of blood and the guilt of Lady Macbeth constantly cleaning her hands as an act of trying to wash her hands of her misdeeds. "Hamlet," which is still my favorite play, always reminds me of those class discussions after reading and listening to it. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have taught me valuable life lessons and the scene of the Hamlet being played like a flute made excellent food for thought in class. However, Shakespeare would not have come alive hand it not been for an excellent guide to lead us like Virgil did for Dante.

The third artist I want to mention was my sophomore English teacher. He, like the previous two, is a master teacher. He was perhaps the hardest English teacher I had, but also was one of the first to help me "get it." That "ah-ha" moment in learning, that understanding moment when knowledge takes root and sparks the brain to say "I can translate this." I profoundly remember the book, it was Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities." I think we spend an entire class on the first sentence which by the way is only like half a page in length. This book came to life because the mentor took the time and energy to give extra, that extra made it seem like he was a childhood friend of Dickens and the teacher was giving insights that only conversing with Dickens could yield. But this insight came from years and years of constant thought and dialogue with Dickens through his written words.

Not everybody has had the gift of knowing so many exceptional mentors; I just want to say thank you, you have touched and formed the lives of many! Thanks for giving it away!