They say if you stand in one place long enough, the entire world will pass you by.
That’s how if feels at the Fryeburg Fair, where every single night I run into someone I know or someone I used to know.
Such was the case last night when I almost literally bumped into Peter Scontras and his wife at the fair.
Mr. Scontras was my eighth-grade English teacher at Saco Middle School, and despite my often asinine behavior in his class, he had a profound effect on my life that lingers to this very day.
Whatever failing can be found in my written words, it is certainly not the fault of Mr. Scontras. It’s more than likely that I was not paying close enough attention when he was talking about gerunds, split infinities and serial commas.
Today, Mr. Scontras is happily retired, and he owns and operates one of the most interesting businesses in this area: The Way Way Store on Rte. 112 in Saco. If you have not been to the Way-Way store, you are missing out on adventure, a magical journey back in time.
I was surprised that Mr. Scontras would remember me. I was even more surprised when he told me that he was a regular reader of this blog.
“You have a gift,” he said.
Words simply cannot describe how it felt to hear those words. (Example of a split infinitive).
A couple of nights ago, I posted on Facebook that I may have missed my calling. I speculated that I would enjoy teaching because I love interacting with kids at the fair.
Mr. Scontras replied to that post, reminding me that we are all teachers, and we all have lessons to share.
I come from a long line of teachers, and their students often tell me warm and fuzzy stories about the people I know as family.
My father was a teacher. He taught severely disabled students at the Cerebral Palsy Center. My grandfather was a teacher, teaching English and history at Biddeford High School. My grandmother was an elementary school teacher in Saco. Her former students invariably talk about Charlotte’s Web and E.B. White.
Today, my sister is a teacher, and she is married to a teacher. Thus, I am the proverbial black sheep in my family. I am not a teacher. But Mr. Scontras would argue that point. (Starting a sentence with a conjunction is a no-no, but is becoming common practice.)
Just the other day, one of my favorite teachers — Mrs. Loughlin (third-grade) — wrote on my Facebook page, telling me she was proud of me and my previous blog post. Her late husband, Tim Loughlin, was one of only two math teachers that I enjoyed. He had a special knack in connecting with students. Math was always tough for me, and his patience was limitless.
My late uncle, Leonard, was the director of student teaching at the University of Maine in Farmington.
He always told his students that you only need to two things to be a great teacher: 10 percent common sense, and 90 percent love of kids.
My uncle taught me more in one day than I learned during an entire year of high school. He did not teach me geometry, chemistry or how to memorize Whitman.
He taught me about hard work, honesty, compassion and generosity. Life lessons.
Sometimes I fail at those lessons, but the trick is to remain open to the learning process.
If you bump into a teacher, please do me a favor: say thank you.
My apologies in advance to Mr. Scontras for butchering the English language on a regular basis.