My spirits start to lift at hearing Billy Joel’s voice sing, “Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray…” from Mr. Fadden’s chemistry classroom. The late afternoon sun shines on the linoleum as I walk down the hallway towards the music to my favorite class of the day. When I finally reach the classroom, Mr. Fadden is standing at the door to greet us with a wide smile and a “Howa youh, Bud?!” in a thick Boston accent. As if I were not happy enough to just be going to his class, his comment makes my smile spread even wider, showing all of my teeth and making my cheeks pinch up.
Science had never been my strong point. I went to a Waldorf school from kindergarten to eighth grade where the arts and music were emphasized. After Waldorf, I enrolled at Dana Hall School and took the introductory course of physical science. The complexity of the material challenged me; I tried my hardest to like it. I escaped the course with a barely passing grade. Guilt and near failure surrounded me, and I vowed to do better in biology. Burdened with the same teacher for biology as physical science, I felt like I had lost the game of biology, even before the first buzzer sounded. Biology came and went as physical science did and ended with low grades and low esteem. I felt condemned before chemistry even started. The only light at the end of my tunnel was to get Mr. Fadden, said to be one of the best teachers in the school.
Mr. Fadden taught class just as you build a fence. First, he set the posts. He laid out his expectations, high, but achievable if you applied yourself. By knowing that he expected us to achieve this goal to the best of our abilities, I applied myself right away and learned that with good, hard work comes reward. Second in building a fence, he built up in between the posts. Mr. Fadden expected that we would learn from his example of setting the posts, and that we would be able to build the rest on our own. He was flexible in how we made the fence, as long as we reached our highest potentials, learned from our mistakes, and achieved our goals. That being said, it was not the result that mattered, but the steps that you took to understand why something happened. Reaching my full potential made the class not about the grade, but about the personal accomplishments. Through building my own fence of learning under the guidance of Mr. Fadden, I was able to develop my own love of learning in a new, mature, way. Mr. Fadden opened new ways of learning, pointing me to the next door, which I would be able to open on my own.