Mr. Duckworth was my high school English teacher.
He was an odd duck. (No pun intended.) Especially for our little school.
He admitted he draft-dodged the Vietnam "conflict" and was an open Agnostic. Wow. He intrigued me. Even at 16, I was, at least, curious about others beliefs. He was the first person I had known who was verbal about his confusion with faith. All I had known was Methodists and Baptists arguing other petty matters.
I had him for all my English classes (small school) and my literary class I took my senior year. He never changed. He challenged us. To think. I don't know that it worked on everyone, but it worked on me. He had great opposition, to which he would respond, "I don't care if your Daddy IS on the school board! You don't scare me!"
And, he wasn't scared.
Let me say, he and I did not get along very well. We were fine if we were discussing novels and such, but GRAMMAR? I was done with that. (I took a 500 level grammar class in college and made an "A") So, I tried to secretly read another book during grammar lessons (hidden behind the book....does that ever work?). That really pissed him off. He threatened to give me a "U" in conduct for doing so. That would kick me out of Beta Club, even though I had stellar grades.
He looked at me with disdain. I was a little spoiled girl who didn't understand the ways of the world. I looked at him with disdain as well, except....underneath it all, I wanted his acceptance. He seemed smarter than most people I knew.
I wrote one essay that he graded an "A," but noted, "nice to see a little humility in you...for a change."
He was one of three teachers I asked to write in my memory book as I graduated. He wrote:
"We have had some differences over the last three years, but I can safely say that you are one of the most creative students I've ever had in class. I'm aware that gifted students often get bored in regular classrooms, but, of course, as a teacher I have to worry about those not-so-gifted ones who will have a a tougher time after high school. Perhaps you will be able to expand and develop your creativity in college. Best of luck to you."
Mr. Duckworth, you were the reason I wanted to be a high school English teacher. My mother warned against that. She said I didn't have the patience. She was probably right. But, you didn't either. And, you motivated me. Thank you, Mr. Duckworth. For making me think.