Monday, April 20, 2009

From the Hell's Angels to a Classroom

A former Hell's Angel as a teacher? Yes, and he was one of the best teachers I ever had.

Coach Bruce Dean was my teacher in the 7th grade at Lubbock Christian School. He was unlike any teacher I have had in the years before and since. Coach Dean was not well-schooled in the art of teaching, and he was not well-versed in the subject area he was responsible for teaching us: science. Coach Dean was unorthodox in his methods, yet he taught us with an effectiveness that was exceptional.

Coach Dean had led an interesting life. He had made his share of poor choices. He had even spent time as a Hell's Angel. But at a certain point in life, Coach found Christ, and his life changed profoundly.

Coach Dean's effectiveness as a teacher was founded on his transformation as a person. My classmates and I knew Coach's story; he told chapters of it to us often. He did so to make a point (actually several): he was exhorting us to avoid the mistakes that he had made. He was using his life to steer us along a better path and to discover LIFE a lot sooner than he had.

I don't remember learning much science in the seventh grade, but I do remember learning a lot about life. I believe that Coach Dean's influence kept me away from many wrong turns and dangerous things in life. He equipped me to make the right choices.

Those are the best kind of teachers: those individuals who teach using their example and those individuals who can speak from the great reservoir of "I've been there, I know what I'm talking about." Do you listen and learn from those individuals? Are you using your life experiences to teach others? I hope that you (and me) can answer in the affirmative to both questions (especially with regards to our own children!).

Tragically, Coach Dean was killed in a motorcycle accident about two weeks after the completion of my 7th grade year. Hearing the news of his death stands as one of the clearest memories of my childhood. It remains one of the saddest moments of my life. Yet, I know that he was victorious, because he was a changed man. He is Hell's angel no more.