I sat at home selecting my courses for sophomore year, most of which were planned out, until I realized I needed to take a science class. I asked my parents for their opinion.
My mom turned her head towards my dad. Without hesitation he said, “Take honors biology. I have four sections of it this year.”
My mind spun for a second before I questioned, “Is it a difficult class since its honors?”
Reassuringly, my dad replied with, “It is for people who want to learn and you do.”
My decision complete, I tried to imagine my dad as my teacher. Would it be weird or awkward? Would he pick on me? Will I be able to pass his class? How will I address him? Little did I know he would become one of my favorite teachers.
When the first day of school came at Arrowhead High School, sophomore year, I arrived nearly an hour before start time with my dad, Mr. Mechenich. Each morning before school, I stayed in my dad's classroom with him. Having my dad at school gave me comfort and I knew he was always down the hall if I needed something.
Each day students, filed into his classroom (chatty, coming from lunch) ready for another class. Most classes, my dad greeted us at the door with a welcoming smile; other times, he wasn’t at the door. Instead, he would have his long, light blue lab coat and clear protective goggles on preparing for a lab. Test tubes, microscopes, and other equipment lined the tables. The whole class squirmed eager to begin the lab.
Lab days were exciting because we got to do hands-on activities like dissecting or peering into a microscope—but they were also social, the class crammed around lab tables.
Every class, he taught with excitement like he caught the biggest fish in the lake. He teaches with an engaging voice accompanied by hand gestures and pictures and videos. I can tell he enjoys teaching biology.
One class, I remember distinctly. My dad was ecstatic about teaching glycolysis. He pulled up a YouTube video: a rap about glycolysis.
The class went into laughter listening to the hilarious yet educational rap and by the end of the video everyone was singing along “Glycolysis! Come on sugar. Come on sugar, for the breakdown. For the breakdown.”
For the rest of the school year, the song popped back into my head and I easily remembered what glycolysis was (the breakdown of glucose by enzymes). This is just one example of how my dad taught his class each day captivating the attention of the students and providing a fun and exciting learning environment.
In addition to his dedication in the classroom, my dad puts in so much of his additional time to plan for his students. At home, he finds new content for his students and plans the next day’s lesson. I remember occasionally hearing random songs coming from the other room only to realize it was my dad watching new videos for his class.
He does all of this in addition to taking care of my family and me. He often cooks dinner and drives my brothers and me places. Not only is my dad a phenomenal teacher and father, but he also an astonishing coach. Over the years, he coached basketball and softball. He coached my middle school basketball team as well as the teams for both of my younger brothers. Most recently, he led my brother’s team to winning the championship.
He coached my softball team for a couple of years also. Regardless of the sport, he pushes his athletes to do their best and work hard. He finds new drills to run, games to play, and he always has a practice plan ready to go before.
My dad is not only a teacher, but also a father and a coach to hundreds of students and athletes, encouraging each one to work their hardest. As for myself, I am not much different. I think about the questions I asked myself before the start of my sophomore year (I am now a junior) and realize I should not have worried about anything. He is still my father, my coach, and now my teacher.
The air is so warm and stagnant you could touch it, reach out and grab some more to satisfy your need for air. The sand and thick wool uniform don’t help with the problems. Sweat is caked on my face, back, and other places I shouldn’t mention. What’s worse, however, is the self-doubt. The crippling heat had completely dissolved the goodwill between both sides, and one wrong decision could cause an eruption. I am talking, of course, about umpiring a middle school little league game.
The stakes could not be higher, and I mean that quite literally. Whether it’s the championship game where I didn’t know it was the championship until halfway through the game or the time I almost got a kneecap broken by an angry kid with a metal bat, I would always lean on the advice of the man that has been my coach, boss, and teacher within a span of a few years.
All I knew about Mr. Mechenich when I first met him was that he was the dad of some girl I knew in one of my middle school classes and that he was pretty active in the community. Just another face. Then he was my coach for Monches baseball.
Running laps and actually trying wasn’t what I expected within the first few practices for our team. After all, this was a summer rec league ball. That’s about as relaxed as it gets. No. Sweat and pain were immediately apparent halfway on my way around a 400-foot baseball fence at running speed. I learned two things instantly. That I was out of shape, and that this guy wanted a good team.
After that, he was my teacher for Honors Biology, just around the same time he was my boss for umpiring the Monches games. I knew he was a teacher, but the thought of what happened next in my sophomore year was unthinkable. After one quick scan of the room, I noted that the most fun person in the classroom was going to be my teacher.
Honors Biology is probably one of the most boring classes in all of high school. It just is, there’s no sugarcoating it. The fact that this guy could make science about nature fun blew me away and my grades were pretty good too. As long as you didn’t walk in there claiming that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, you did just fine.
After reading this, you may wonder where Mr. Mechenich comes into this. After all, I have no direct quotes for you, no bombastic stories or specific experiences to call on. No. That’s too easy. What Mr. Mechenich did to make me respect him goes a lot further, and usually unnoticed. He picked a life out for himself, and year after year commits himself to teaching, coaching, and running a baseball park. I came out of nowhere, and he welcomed me just like everyone else to his life, and let me carve out my own little journey in his masterpiece. I made mistakes along the way, but he had my back, whether that meant sticking up for me or telling me off when I screw up. Little experiences in life can make a larger difference than any memorable quote or fantastic story.
Tyler A Soens
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