My mother went to a nondenominational Christian private school all the way through high school. One of the classes she took was Bible History with focus less on theology and more on what could be historically verified. The teacher was Mr. Conn Hamlett and I have yet to find a teacher anywhere that could best him as a storyteller. I never had the good fortune to to attend any of his classes while he was still teaching some might wonder how I can hold that opinion. My mom has told me the stories he related to them in class since I was seven years old. One of my favorites was about an old man Mr. Hamlet used to deliver groceries to as a teenager. The gentleman’s house did not have indoor plumbing so there was an outhouse in the backyard. He also owned a goat which he kept in the backyard which he would irritate by leaning out of the kitchen window and rapping it on the head with a fishing pole. The goat got its revenge one day when the old man had gone out to the outhouse. Every time he would try to leave the outhouse the goat would ram the outhouse. If I remember the story correctly he was stuck there for at least an hour and even then the goat chased him back to the house. Another time Mr. Hamlet brought the man his groceries only to find him frantically taking down the wallpaper, when Mr. Hamlett asked what he was doing the man replied, ” there are Communist in the wallpaper.” Mr. Hamlet quietly sat down the groceries and left.
Mr. Hamlett retired from teaching at Goodpasture Christian School at the end of 2006 school year, at which point alumni from several of the classes he taught including my mother’s held a retirement party of sorts called “Mr. Hamlett’s Last Class” to inaugurate a scholarship fund in his name. I had the good fortune to participate in it during which I finally met this man who I have spent my entire life caring about. Angie (my best girl) even insisted on going with us because I had told her the stories that mom told me. When mom explained how far from his classroom the stories he told had traveled I think you could have knocked him over with a feather. I think it is always a teachers greatest hope that they be remembered fondly by people they have taught but to find themselves greeted with joy for their teaching by people they never actually taught themselves must be a little surprising.
I have been told many times that I should be a teacher and part of the reason I’ve never done it is because I have never felt equal to living up to the standards which he unknowingly set. Everybody should be so lucky as to have a teacher whether academic or otherwise of his caliber in their life at some point. Anybody who wishes to find out more about the scholarship fund can find it here. I have not been a fan of theology based schooling but I will always support teachers whose primary purpose is to make a difference in their students lives no matter the forum in which they teach.