david and me

31 March 2015. New York, NY

“Who was the best teacher you’ve ever had?”

The question was posed to me as part of an interview. I was sitting in the The Flatiron School’s headquarters in New York. They were about to embark on a massive initiative to teach high school students how to code in 6 cities around the US during the summer; I was going to see how I could help.

I regularly lead for The Flatiron School’s adult programs. I help the students in their immersive programs learn how to communicate the skills they are learning so they can network, interview, and talk with colleagues more effectively.

And I’m a big believer in teaching kids to program. Even if they never become a developer, learning to program is learning a strategic way to thinking. It’s like improv, I think everyone should do it regardless of vocation or occupation.

Due to my passion for programming and my new nomadic life style, we were seeing how I might be involved. Unfortunately based on my schedule I wasn’t able to do much, but it still left me with this interesting question, “Who was the best teacher I’ve ever had?”

I’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible teachers in my life. Mrs. Kinney, my 5th and 6th grade teacher in middle school taught me it wasn’t enough to just be smart, you had to work hard as well. Mrs. Sherman, my 7 grade English teacher taught me to have high expectations for myself. Mr. Ferris, my 12th grade Theory of Knowledge teacher taught me to be inquisitive about the world.

But the best teacher I’ve ever had was my brother, David.

My mom likes to say the reason I did so well academically was that David, 2 years older than me, would come home and teach me everything that he learned in school.

And it was true, David always liked to share new things with me, though they weren’t always things he learned in school. It seemed that if David ran out of things to teach, he would just start making things up.

I’d then go spouting it off as fact and would learn that it was just fiction. As it turns out, there is no such thing as a “take off” bird. Birds typically don’t need to run on the ground for long distances in order to get enough speed to fly, nor do they come in and hit the group running when landing, like an animalistic airplane.

But whether what he taught was fact or fiction, he was very good at it.

Given my brother’s passion and skill for teaching, it’s no surprise that he’s now a professor at Texas A&M, where he consistently ranks as one of the top professors in the Communication department.

Here’s to hoping he’s just sticking to the facts with his students though.

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dear dad

This is probably one of the most honest things I’ve ever written, and it almost feels cliche to post it to the blog, but it seems appropriate for Father’s Day.  My Dad is fine now, but that night at 4am was scary and we didn’t know what was going to happen.  This is how I dealt with it.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  I love you.

Dear Dad,

It’s 4am on Sunday, May 3rd, and you’re sitting in a hospital.  You’re hundreds of miles away and I can’t stop thinking about you.  I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to write this letter.  Over the years there’s so many things that we’ve said to each other, but there is one thing that I have never said enough, I love you.

I love you for helping me to grow up to be a man.  While I wasn’t lucky enough to get your eyesight (I guess not all of us can have better than 20/20 vision) I did get your math-mind, and a bit of your work ethic.  You are one of the hardest working people I know, you’ll work 16 hours a day and not even bat an eye.  I also got your desire to just get things done; to finish a project, no matter how long it takes, or how close it is to Thanksgiving dinner when people are on their way over.

I love you for all of the things you’ve taught me.  You taught me golf, and I swear I’ll actually beat you one of these days.  I remember when we’d go bowling, and even though I have a smooth roll, I couldn’t knock ’em down like you.  I remember learning Euchre; you’ve always been good at that.  How you know what card David or I are going to turn up, I don’t know, but you always know.  I wish I had learned your ability to cook, I still think about London broil that you would make, always so good the day after.

I love you for your support.  You were one of the first ones to fully support me in soccer, in comedy, and in moving to New York.  You were always there at my soccer games, a great person of support on the sidelines, as I ran up and down the field like a preying mantis.  And you were there after comedy shows, telling me what you thought was funny, and laughing even when I embellished my childhood in the stories I told.  You always tell me, without a doubt in your mind, that I will be successful, that I’ll go on and make it at whatever it is that I choose.

I love you for your strength, your support, your encouragement.  I love you for what you’ve taught me, shown me, and told me.  I love you for the values you instilled in me, the character you’ve helped give me, and for helping me become the man I am today.

I guess I also inherited your hard exterior, and I think it’s why I’m writing this letter.  We were never ones to be highly emotional–I guess Mom did enough of that for both of us (just kidding, Mom).  My friends joke about how I never seem to be affected by things, that I’m always able to think clearly and rationally.  Usually that’s a pretty good thing; I’m able to keep a level head, not get angry, and I always try to think about what’s best.  But unfortunately it also means that I don’t always say what needs to be said.  And while one letter will never be enough to tell you how much I care for you, or appreciate you for everything you’ve done, at least it’s a start, right?

So as you sit in the hospital hundreds of miles away, I just think about all of that, and how much I owe to you and Mom.  I don’t know what will happen next, but I know we’ll get through this.  You’re such a strong person, one little ol’ heart attack isn’t enough to keep you down.  In fact you’ll probably be trying to go back to work tomorrow.  I know I haven’t said it enough, but know that I love you.  For all of the reasons above, and for so many more, I love you, Dad.

Your son,

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