Five years ago, I contacted my high school marine biology teacher by mailing him a letter. He was one of the handful of teachers who have made a positive impact in my life and I needed to let him know how far his efforts went. He was much more than a science teacher to me; he taught me how to write better, how to organize my thoughts, how to use logic, how to be responsible, and how to be more efficient in everything I do. Most importantly, he developed in me a deep respect and interest in marine life that I still carry with me today. And he was also funny. In my high school yearbook he wrote, “Success and happiness to a nice squid, don’t flounder around”.
After I mailed my letter to Mr. Teret, he soon got back to me and was ecstatically thankful to me for contacting him. We spoke on the phone and had a great conversation. He told me how a few of his former students like myself have reached out to let him know that they too still have a love and interest in marine biology because of him. I told him all the interesting things I’ve been doing in my life lately and he enjoyed hearing about them. I also told him about a trip I was planning with my family to go on a whale watch in Provincetown, Cape Cod. Back in 1982, Mr. Teret brought my class and me on our first whale watch trip together. It was a pivotal trip in my life that began my life-long fascination with whales.
Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Teret contacted me out of the blue. He had just received a lifetime achievement award from the New York State Marine Education Association. This award called the Founder’s Award, is a highly-coveted prize that very few will ever receive. When he went on stage to receive this award, he mentioned a handful of his former students whom he had over the years and how they had contacted him years later to thank him for developing a life-long interest in marine biology. One of the students he mentioned was me. It brought me great happiness to hear this, possibly as much happiness to Mr. Teret as when I first contacted him five years ago to let him know how much he meant to my life. The mutual appreciation between Mr. Teret and myself had now become full-circle.
I now impart my wisdom and fascination with marine biology to my own children. My son, daughter and I recently assisted a marine scientist on a horseshoe crab count at a nearby beach, something you could say was 34 years in the making.
If you have a teacher who has made an impact in your life the way Mr. Teret has made in mine, I highly recommend that you contact them while you still can. It’s a worthwhile endeavor that you won’t regret.