Saturday, October 23, 2010

One man's influence

It's a common truth that educators can hugely influence the trajectory of their students' lives. It's a similarly common truth that many of those students may not fully appreciate that influence until years later.

One of my mentors was a man named Arthur. Interestingly, he wasn't my teacher. He didn't even work at my school. See, I attended the St. Laurent campus of Herzliah High School, while Arthur worked as headmaster at the Snowdon branch. I knew of him long before I actually knew him. But as graduation approached and life decisions began to be made, I somehow found myself meandering through the halls of the "other" campus, talking to the guy who knew more about navigating post-secondary life than anyone I've met since.

His raison d'etre, it seemed, was to take every student under his wing and make sure we had everything we needed to kick it in our post-secondary career. He didn't just answer questions and provide pithy advice. He knew people at every school no matter where it was. Knew what they liked and didn't like. Knew how to talk to them. Knew how to write the perfect application letter to convince them to say yes. Knew when to suggest an alternative course of action if he felt you needed a nudge.

He was always there, too, never too busy to answer the phone or sit down with you if you dropped in unannounced. Never too preoccupied with the typical priorities of a senior administrative and academic leader to set everything aside and do whatever he felt you needed him to do. In Yiddish parlance, a mensch.

Largely because of him, I gained the confidence to ask questions, push myself into new academic and professional directions, and challenge myself to roll the dice even if others questioned my logic. I learned from him that the final choice is always yours.

Arthur Candib passed away this week after a long illness. When I opened up the e-mail from the alumni office, my heart sank. The simple dynamics of ages and generations teach us that we'll ultimately lose those who have guided us, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. The world lost a great man this week, a man who laid down roots within countless generations of students, all of whom have gone on to influence, improve and repair the world in their own unique way.

As the husband of a teacher, I appreciate deeply the influence that teaching souls like Mr. Candib (also known as "The Ace" to many who so often watched him hit it out of the park on their behalf) have on those lucky enough to cross their path. It's among the most precious of all legacies, because it continues to bear fruit long after the master has left us.

May his family derive comfort from all that he accomplished in his life. May his memory always be a blessing.

Your turn: Who influenced you? How/why?

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15 comments:

Cloudia said...

My post today actually touches on this...



Aloha from Hawaii, Carmi

Comfort Spiral

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Cloudia said...

oh, and condolences

Shirley said...

Carmi, what a wonderful heartfelt tribute you wrote for a great and inspirational man. All who read this will wish they'd had the opportunity to know him and to reflect upon those who mentored their lives. I know I did.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I am sorry your mentor has passed but just think, what u have learned from him, u can pass on to others.. He wi lives on ...((HUGS))

Scarlet said...

What a lovely tribute to your mentor.

I have always looked up to my maternal grandparents. My Pa passed away in 2003 and my Nan followed 14 months later. I still think of them daily and think about the things they taught me and the experiences we shared together.

A Paperback Writer said...

This is a nice tribute, but I can't help but think that my students would appreciate me a lot more too if I were dead.... then I couldn't assign them any more work! :)

I hope you had a chance to tell this man while he was alive how much he meant to you. I'v had a chance to track down a few of my former teachers and tell them I chose their own profession. As a teacher I know it's nice to have someone tell you that what you did actually worked.

Anonymous said...

wow man...sorry for your loss.

although i did not know the man, the picture you have painted tells me the world is a much smaller place today...educators influence all of us and a great educator is indeed a rarity...

awesomely written piece tho'

Bruce

bruce said...

did not mean to be annonymous..i am techchallenged

i am sure you have used his lessons daily, whether you realize it or not..

again so sorry for your loss

bruce

Karen Sather said...

A very touching tribute for your friend. So sorry for your loss, and the younger generations of the future who will never meet Arthur. Now perhaps you can share some of that learned wisdom to share so he may live on! I wasn't as fortunate to have had someone as great as Arthur, to guide me. Since school it seems I have learned things and from a large number of people along the way and no matter who we meet everyone influences us in one way or another. it's much like the saying about the man who cried because he didn't have shoes, until he met a man who didn't have feet. Take care,keep smiling. Karen

Mustang Sally said...

Proof once again, that tho' we are just one person, we can make a difference. We are all "that person" to somebody, although we may not be aware of it.

Very sorry for you loss Carmi

Jeremiah Andrews said...

Is it so surprising that even though your friend has passed, that he is still working his magic through the pupils he touched.

He is not gone as long as we remember him. You do realize that what you teach us all, and what you teach your children comes from the seeds he planted so long ago.

You are teacher now ...

Jeremy

Alexia said...

My condolences, Carmi. How wonderful that this man had such an impact on you. Like APBW I hope you had a chance to tell him of his importance to you.
Arohanui
(this is the Maori word meaning "loving greetings to you")

A

fredamans said...

Sending condolences and (((HUGS)))

Kavi said...

Teachers often live through the students who they have left their thoughts with.

My condolences...

Jody Levine said...

He was special, that's for sure. He demonstrated the difference between merely doing and actually giving a damn. All of humanity could stand to learn from that.

You would have enjoyed his classes.