February 27, 2014
Name: Marvin Roxas
Unit: Uganda Blog
Subject: Blog Post
Teacher: Too many to count
“I am a doctor, you know
I am a man of the brains
Oh you all know that you depend on me
Oh without me you wouldn’t live
A mechanic here I come
A great man I am
Oh you all bring your cars to me
Oh without me you wouldn’t drive
Build builder here I come
Yes you depend on me
Oh without me there would be no house
A teacher, a teacher, a teacher
I’m the greatest of all…”
These are the lyrics to a simple song shared with me by my counterpart, Mr. Kyazze Dan who is the music and art teacher here at Luteete PTC. I had a talk with him the other day about his personal motivation, likes and dislikes about the college, and his own personal goals. It’s exciting to have these one-on-ones because I get the chance to really find out what these teachers want to accomplish here. It turns out that Mr. Dan has a laptop and some basic recording equipment in order to record some of his music students singing so that they can see a small side of music production. Now I haven’t seen his getup, but it still astounds me to see these pieces of technology in a place like the sub-counties of Luweero District.
His goal is to have enough funding and support to create a music school for the Luweero District. Students of all ages from all around the sub-counties would then have the opportunity to study a wide variety of local musical instruments, while also learning classical music theory, playing on a keyboard, and using their voice. I told him that I would be more than glad to help him raise awareness by adding some videos of the college choir singing on a blog site dedicated to works by the students of Luteete and the surrounding areas.
I never would have believed it a couple of years ago if you would have told me that I would be a teacher in Africa. Even now it’s funny thinking that I’m doing the stereotyped stint of living in Africa and teaching in a less than ideal conditions but feeling that it’s all worthwhile in the end. Even my friend from BU and Dresden, Matt Musto, commented on my teaching profile picture from Shimoni that I looked like the main character from Freedom Writers (And yes I do think that I have an uncanny resemblance to Hillary Swank). I spend some hours every other day planning my lessons so that the students would actually be excited to learn and be challenged. And as I teach, I remember my own teachers as I grew up.
I remember my elementary school teachers from ChurchLaneTechnologySchool. Even now I can name my homeroom teachers as well those who taught me specific subjects and made me learn.
Kindergarten – Ms. Pearson
1st Grade – Ms. Gray
2nd Grade – Mrs. Lang
3rd Grade – Mrs. Ellison-Wood
4th Grade – Ms. Massey
And then I moved away from public school to catholic school. During this transition, the more specific subject-oriented teachers left a bigger impact on me than the homeroom teachers, especially since we would then have different teachers for different subjects rather than one teacher for all subjects. I learned about culture and discipline in Church Lane. I learned how it felt to be the minority as I was called “Chinese Boy” by most of my classmates. It’s funny how right now I am still mistaken for Chinese in Uganda. But I got a solid start with my basics in reading comprehension, writing, basic arithmetic, and use of computers at such an early age.
And then in 5th grade and middle at Sacred Heart of Glyndon had my teachers push me to be better than I already was. They weren’t content that I was doing well with the material, and when I failed they straight up told me that I could do better. I remember acting out a lot in 5th grade and not getting the best grades. My Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Tebbs, sat down with me for a one-on-one session when I was serving yet another recess detention. She told me that she couldn’t change my bad behavior and the way I was acting, but that only I could make that decision for myself. Along with this, I needed to focus on my grades and study better because she knew that I was smarter than I demonstrated in class. I specifically remember during that day in 5th grade that I told myself that I would make a personally concentrated effort to become a better student.
I shaped up and got better grades and started off middle school strong. I had a solid education in middle school with teachers who really wanted us to master content even though we had just become teenagers. It was around this time that math and science began to really pique my interest. And I owe a big part of this inspiration to Ms. Goode and Mrs. Riley. I remember that Ms. Goode was a science and math teacher and she just had this certain playful quality yet stern demeanor that held such a powerful classroom presence. She would also work alongside with us middle school students in order to solve difficult math problems. I remember that she didn’t always have the answer to a problem from the get-go, but she would somehow be able to give us the tools needed for us to find the answer on our own and feel accomplished. And her projects were always really engaging. Then there was the crazy Mrs. Riley who would sing songs and talk about hanging us from a ceiling tile of our choice in the science lab if we became too rowdy.
But I remember that she made biology and chemistry fun. I loved doing the science projects for the science fair and I can still remember the section about making a rocket that we launched at the end of the year. We also watched the movie October Sky, based on Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, who also had a Ms. Riley as a science teacher.
Then in high school, I had amazing math and science teachers again. Now don’t get me wrong, I also had solid teachers in other subjects but the purpose of this blog post is to talk about my own inspiration in wanting to pursue math and science because of those techers. Ms. Warfield taught me Calculus like no other, and it is because of her that I feel like my math skills are as solid as they are right now. And back then I definitely did not feel like admitting it, but Physics Honors and AP Physics during my junior and senior years in high school really made me choose to become an engineer in college. I remember staying up past 4am trying to work out physics problems for homework as well as take-home test corrections for force and momentum problems that I just couldn’t understand. But other than just content, Mr. Baier taught me a new way of thinking. He allowed all of us to use our notes, textbooks, printed papers, old tests, equation sheets, and anything else that we had at our disposal in order to help us during his tests and quizzes. Regardless of these things, I remember failing a good portion of his tests and quizzes. But I eventually caught on and learned about a new way of thinking about a problem that wasn’t as straightforward as plugging in numbers to a formula and chugging.
I’d say that because of these two teachers, I was as successful as I became in the College of Engineering at Boston University to the point that I didn’t really learn any new material during my freshman year. And I remember Mr. Jariwala, my Physics II teacher during sophomore year fall semester at BU. After the first lecture, he already had everyone’s name memorized, and knew what questions we were capable of answering. And he challenged us just as much as Mr. Baier had challenged me two years prior, but I was prepared. And thanks to these and countless other teachers, both academic and non-academic, I have learned subject content and various other life skills. I learned how to learn, and as a result I have also learned a small part about what it means to teach.
And before I end this post, I also want to give a shout-out to my parents who were my first teachers. It was because of them that I started reading chapter books and knew my times tables by 2nd grade. But more importantly, they taught me about the meaning of a family and what it means to always have a home.
Here’s to you my teachers who have taught me throughout my lifetime. I hope that you know that I’m using what you taught me over here in my own classroom in Uganda.