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Guest column/John Minor worked to bring history alive

June 23, 2013
By MICHAEL ISLA , The Herald-Star

John Minor, history teacher, is retiring this year from his nearly 45-year teaching career. His influence can be felt by the reverence his students have for him and his considerable contribution to educating our youth. This perspective is from one of his former students.

What is history, and why is it so important? These are questions any history student of Minor's could answer after taking his class. His classroom was a tapestry of historical information and filled with intriguing stories of complex figures such as Rasputin and Alexander the Great. But the greatness and intrigue of these characters only came to life by the depth and knowledge of his lectures.

It has been shown that a student's brain activity declines when attending a lecture. This was not the case in our class. The lectures we attended ignited amazing images of wars, treaties and the like that changed the course of history. We were intellectually engaged through passionate and colorful storytelling. Even his handwriting had an artistry that reflected his respect of history.

As a 1991 Wintersville High School graduate, the effect Minor has had on my life is still palpable. In short, I love history and have excelled in such classes throughout my college and graduate career.

As a teacher and father, my goal was always to create an intriguing picture of knowledge. This desire was implanted during these lectures when I imagined passing on the torch of wisdom. In some ways, it has spoiled me. When you have a teacher who has a profound impact on your knowledge and world view, you expect it from everyone. Unfortunately, not all teachers create a deep impact crater on your psyche. This realization came quickly, as I entered into higher education. From microbiology to music theory classes, there are all kinds of teachers. Undoubtedly, the most effective educators follow Minor's formula. And this can be summed up in one word: passion.

Passion for the material, passion for the delivery and passion for his students' understanding. When you have a teacher who truly cares about you, it pulls you into a learning vortex. To this day, that vortex has increased my fervor for learning, regardless of the teacher.

So, what is history, and why is it important? To me, history is a panorama of the past that advances our current state of thought. It is important because we are able to evolve our mind through understanding our past.

History is an inherent factor in advancing thought. The stories and characters who shaped our world thrust us forward in time toward the clarity of who we are and where we are headed. History, in essence, is necessary. Amazing teachers such as John Minor are part of that necessity. One cannot live without the other. They are intertwined as the vessel of delivery and the material contained within.

The impact Minor has had on my life is deep and inspirational. From the core of my being, the only words that can express this experience are "thank you." Thank you for choosing to teach, thank you for caring for your students and thank you for helping us understand that the true meaning of history is to pass it on to our children and their children. Indian Creek High School (and my alma mater, Wintersville High School, R.I.P.) will sadly miss John Minor upon his retirement, and his fantastic contribution to shaping young minds to become advancing mature minds.

Congratulations to his 45 years of teaching.

(Isla, a graduate of Wintersville High School, is a resident of Pompano Beach, Fla.)

 
 

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