I didn't have many male teachers growing up. When I got to junior high, that changed. My science and technology teacher was Mr. Banks (yes, kids, way back when in the olden days, they used to actually have a class called "technology" and in it we had commodore 64's. Google it!). Mr. Banks was a tall cat. I always thought that he could be an ex-basketball player. Maybe he played for the Knicks? He had this laid back "don't f**k with me" attitude that made all the kids love him and respect him all at once. And in that neighborhood, with those kids, that wasn't always something that everyone could accomplish.
I loved Mr. Banks because he listened to me. I was good in his science class. I remember him letting me go to the classroom during lunch period so that I could dissect a kidney.
The biggest impact he had on me though, was in his technology class. That's the class where we learned all about computers. I remember that the other kids used to like to play video games. I don't recall what the general purpose of the class was or what we did as far as assignments were concerned. I suppose it was to introduce us to the wonderful world of computers. Well, I didn't much get to play Nerm the Worm or Karatika like the other kids. Why, you ask? Mr. Banks had another game for me. One that I played for nearly the 2 years of junior high. I'll never forget the name: Science Island. The gist of the game was simple. There was a storm coming and in order to get off the island and survive you had to answer all sorts of questions.
I remember asking him if I could play another game. And in his very laid back sort of way that he spoke, he simply told me no, to go back to playing my game. By the time May of my 8th grade year rolled around, I knew all the answers to the game. But more than that, Mr. Banks expected more of me. Because I played the educational game, I was also allowed to use this dream creation of a program called PrintShop! With it I did all kinds of banners including: "Live to Love!" Complete with butterflies and hearts at the end. Ah, good ol' dot matrix. You could print those out and then use your own markers to make it color (which is exactly what I used to do thankyouverymuch). I remember that when the gym teacher was retiring, I was asked by the faculty to make him a banner. I got to stay late and print it all out for his retirement party. I was very proud to have been given such an important job!
Mr. Banks introduced me to technology. Opened my eyes to the possibilities. He also instilled in me the desire to do and be better. To not care about what was popular but to focus on what was important. While I initially envied the kids that were playing Nerm the Worm, I eventually got to play it and found that though it was fun, I got very little out of it from a learning perspective. I guess that makes me a nerd. So what? That was alright by Mr. Banks and it was alright by me.