Monday, December 19, 2011

Back to My Old Stomping Grounds

So much has changed at Lynden Christian since the last time I visited, more since I graduated in 2004:

A new weight shed/training facility stands alongside the football field. The high school offices have been moved from the center of the building to the main entrance. I recognized only a few teachers. Fewer students (the Seniors would have been 4th graders in 2004).

My brother and I went to school to visit Mr. Kredit, the long-time biology teacher. Mr. Kredit is now 72 years old, and currently in his 50th year of teaching (roughly 40 of those years spent at Lynden Christian, where he has taught not only the children of some of his earliest students, but also grandchildren). He has won numerous awards during his career, and has inspired countless students with his evident joy and awe with how the world works. Personally, I look to him as a model teacher, and one of several key inspirations for my own philosophy and style of teaching.

Mr. Kredit, who still leads Seniors on a hike up Church Mountain every fall (and also works as a ranger at Yellowstone during the summer), was as lively as ever.

"I went to my 50th Calvin reunion a while back, and some of my close friends asked what I was up to these days. I told them I was teaching and they said 'Man, get a life!' So, I asked what they were doing and they said, 'Oh, it's great, we play golf three times a week.'"

My brother and I laughed at the image of Mr. Kredit teeing off on the 9th hole.

Kredit continued, "I mean, you hit a ball as hard as you can, and then you go hunt for it. What is that?"

Kredit went on to mention his mother, who is almost 102 years old, and just decided to stop some of her medications ("what does a 102 year old need to worry about osteoperosis, anyway?"). Evidently, stopping the medications helped to restore some of the mental sharpness that had faded in recent years.

"I think, you know, if she's almost 102, and I'm 72, then what's to stop me from teaching for a while more?"

And there it was: This man, who has hit the 50-year milestone that so few teachers reach, has no plans of stopping. His energy and love for teaching have not diminished even over the course of half a century. He told us that it wasn't always easy, that some classes were tough to reach, but then he showed us student responses from a recent lab (a two-week experiment that both Ben and I had done as students, in which we had to determine what was causing molasses to ferment). The students wrote fairly profound responses about what they learned, saying that in life, the answers aren't always easy, and citing the need to think deeply and critically.

Again, I was inspired by Mr. Kredit.

I snapped a shot of my graduating class pic on my way out...
I miss these people--for any who might read this, plan
on there being a 10-year reunion in Summer 2014!

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