Thursday, October 21, 2010

The World Has Lost Two Great Teachers

I learned of the passing of two great teachers this month. Each will be remembered for the profound and lasting effect they had on their students.

Lyn Hendry, who was a childhood neighbor and taught at my High School in Bethesda, Maryland, passed away on October 13 at the age of 89. She was living in retirement in Chestertown, Maryland.

As far as I can recall, I never had a class with Mrs. Hendry. I graduated 30 years ago, after all, but I think I would have remembered. But she was a neighbor and I can say that her teaching influenced me, if only at a remove. Several of my siblings took her classes and brought her influence home. I'm sure she is one of the reasons our dinner-time table-talk was in many ways like a seminar itself.

And earlier this week, we lost Charlie Bassett, retired American Studies professor at Colby College and one of the touchstones in my own intellectual development.

I took his survey of American literature class. It was one of those large, lecture hall classes that can become simply a catalog of facts and figures. But his teaching style was so vivid and involved that I remember some of his lectures to this day.

Ironically, I had heard earlier this fall that Professor Bassett was battling an illness at a nursing home near Villanova, where my eldest has just started her college career. Her school search, selection process, and move to Villanova had had me thinking back to my time at Colby and to teachers like Charlie Bassett, and what he helped me learn.

I think we forget sometimes how important teachers can be in helping shape us into the citizens we become. I'm glad to have known these two as neighbors and teachers.

I'm sad to learn that they are gone, but grateful for the work they did -- work that we'll remember and hopefully pass on to the next group to come along.

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