Then and Now; May 15, 2019



Yesterday, May 8, my special student Patrick visited and made my day special again. Since we met, Patrick’s reading has improved. I helped Patrick to believe and be proud. I do not know what path Patrick’s life will take. I shared with Patrick my pride in being a teacher. Always when I was asked what I did for a living, I answered, “I am a teacher.” I never said, “I am just a teacher.” I do know that Patrick came to me with a desire to learn. It was my job not to drive him away. We succeeded.

I have been retired from teaching for thirty years. The longer I taught, the better I got. Even though I taught in a high school with more than 2000 students, I maintained personal contact. I had classes with more than thirty students and I wanted to be the right teacher for every student. No student came to my class wanting to fail. From day one, failure was not a choice. I had no formal discipline policy. Instead I created a personal relationship with every student. Each period I would stand by the door, make eye contact, and greet the students. In exchange for not having a formal discipline policy, I had to sign a statement saying that I would not request any administrator’s help. I signed.

For most of my career at Soquel High, I taught speech classes and coached the speech and debate team. I have often read that the greatest fear most people have in the fear of public speaking. The fear even has a name, glossophobia. My solution to overcome that fear was preparation and practice.

My debate teams never won a national championship. We did win two California state championships. There was no ‘me too movement’, however there was gender equality. During my time as the speech and debate coach, my nephew JERRY WASSERBURGER came to live with me in 1970. Later he returned to NCHS and became the Wyoming state champion orator.

Yesterday, Patrick and I embraced a hug. We did not say good-bye. Instead we said, “Until we meet again.” During the summer I will improve my health, and Patrick will improve his reading. In September, we will meet again. Together we will continue to make our lives better. Each one help one.

John Wasserburger

PO Box 14

Capitola, CA 95010





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