I started off my visit to NJ this weekend by having lunch with my middle school computer teacher, Mr. Henkel. It was great to see him again. Mr. Henkel was one of the first teachers to really believe in me and give me a chance that made a huge difference in my life. In fifth grade, Mr. Reed let me loose on the classroom’s Apple II compatible and that was where I developed an appreciation for the finer things in life (like Transylvania, where I learned what a “sarcophagus” was). But in 7th grade, Mr. Henkel introduced me to the world of telecommunications. I spent time calling local BBSes on the Apple IIe with a 300 baud modem and loved it from the first time I logged in. From there, he let me run a BBS on the Apple IIGS with a 1200 baud modem… I wrote the BBS myself with help from ModemWorks software I bought from the SJAUG. I even remember the phone number to the BBS, ten years later!

Mr. Henkel also introduced me to sailing. He took a few of us sailing a number of times and I have many fond memories of the pre-sailing trip to the supermarket (where we convinced each other that buying a pack of 100 hot dogs for the weekend was a good idea), winning races that we forgot to enter, and falling into the (literally) crappy waters of the marina when I tried to jump into the dinghy.

I think the best thing a teacher can do for their students is to give them a chance. Encourage them to be creative and find something that’s both constructive and fun. It really is an easy way to change a kid’s life.

Here’s a picture from my visit (l to r: Mr. Henkel, Me, and Mr. Gair, another computer teacher at Memorial). I also got to visit briefly with Mrs. Reichenbach (7th grade Social Studies), Mrs. Strangfeld, and a couple others. It was great to see them all again.