Thank You, Mr. Mangold
Post-Script: I can certainly understand the value of secondary school as preparation for college and to gain essential life skills. Still, even when I was in school so many decades ago, there was an emphasis on jobs training, whether that be through Industrial Arts or, in the case of the Math Department back then, teaching kids how to operate cash registers(!). I personally never enjoyed a classic liberal arts education, which seems so foreign these days in America, but am personally familiar with a family of kids who did gain such experience, through being home-schooled; they have subsequently excelled as adults, being emotionally well-balanced and mature beyond their years, in comparison with their peers.
My experience of being tutored under Rob Mangold was so rich because he let us explore our ideas. Partway through my second year of Architectural Drafting I experienced an explosion of interest in air-supported structures. Instead of telling me to just drop it, he permitted me to build several prototype inflated structures in the back of our class, along with drawing the blueprints as everyone else had to. The result was not only a design for a private residence using air-inflated tubes as structural members in the walls and roof (the drawings of which are in the top photograph, under the drafting instruments I used), but also an inflatable dome large enough to accommodate several people.
I'm certain, looking back upon the experience as an adult, there were some hard feelings on the part of other students in the class, who thought that perhaps I was the teacher's pet. Maybe. But perhaps Mr. Mangold took an interest in this geeky kid because he saw something in me that I couldn't at the time perceive; but which, in the passing of the decades since, has served me well.
Perhaps S.T.E.M. - based curricula are the way forward for our society; or perhaps we need a renewed focus upon classical liberal arts education; or perhaps we need to cut everything else out except Common Core Curricula. Whichever way, what's most important is that we retain and reward talented teachers with the heart to see the latent potential in kids like myself, and enable those teachers to go the extra mile to ensure the creative potential of their students is satisfied. Such talent is the heart and soul of effective education, and can't be programmed into existence through Power Point foils and the latest fad in educational theory. I'm living proof.
Top photo via Lumix G5, typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.