Monday, August 13, 2007

Dear Readers,

These are the Lives that Touched Mine ...

Mr. Berenbaum

It needn't leave a scar, but it does have to leave a little bruise.

Certain souls enter our lives for just moments; they show their concern, they express their love and, before you know it, they have gone.

I am very fortunate to have had many fine caring teachers in my life. And what is special about such persons does not lie so much in the content area that she/he tried to teach you. In Mr. Berenbaum's case, it was "fractions" ... you know "numerators, denominators, proper and improper fractions," and yes, as a result of his special effort, I did finally get it.

Rather these teachers teach what can only be taught by some teachers, not all. Let's face it ... anyone who has ever cut an apple pie into wedges can teach fractions. Mr. Berenbaum's real strength lie in his showing me what it means to be a mentsh, to be a teacher who teaches "children." You see ... teachers like Mr. Berenbaum do not teach math per se; it just so happens that part of their job is to teach math, but what they do so incredibly well is teach "children."

I'll always remember Mr. Berenbaum, my 6th grade teacher, who was very concerned about me on a few different levels. He held me after class on perhaps three occasions with my mother's consent and went over the lessons with me. On another level -which reflected his concern for me as a parent himself- but even more so as a caring Jewish man, Mr. Berenbaum did not like the friends I chose for myself at school whom he felt were not right for me.

We had tried to put a small band together and Mr. Berenbaum thought this was somehow inappropriate, almost as if it were "schmutzik." He was my friend, caretaker, uncle and parental substitute in addition to being my sixth grade classroom teacher.

In other words, he cared about me and I perceived that unmistakingly. For that reason, I recall him fondly these 40 years later.

Alan Busch


No comments: