ONE ON ONE | Gary Reel Supervisor shows student-teachers the ropes
Why did you go into education?
My mother wanted to be a teacher, and during the Depression, there wasn't time or money. My aunt was, and many of my teachers I had along the way convinced me that this was something that was worth pursuing.
Some of the teachers that I had, there was a lady that was probably the most inspiring, was Ms. Edith Lynn, [my seventh-grade English teacher].
What about her inspired you?
She had been all over the world, and she had been my dad and mother's teacher, my aunt and uncle's, my brother's, and she had just been there forever. And yet, she took an interest. She wanted to hear about the farm. I grew up on a farm. She was interested in that, because she had grown up on a farm.
She had to be in her 60s when I had her. And she taught a few more years, then she went into the Peace Corps, spent two years in Malaysia. We'd just sit and talk about people at the school. Kind of an inspiration because, like I said, she cared.
This woman, she was tough. There were days when she never smiled. It was business, business, business. And yet, when we graduated, some kids were still referring to her, from seventh grade, as the best English teacher.
A lot of them after that tried to be your buddy or tried to go through the motions. She just inspired a lot of people over the years. When she finally died, I went to the funeral. There were other people there that had been students. She had to be 100. I just wonder if, when I'm 100, there'll be anyone still around.
Why is it important for teachers to take an interest in their students' lives?
Some of these kids have nothing else near a normal family in their life. That's probably the fourth [reason] actually. They feel gratified that somebody cares about them. The quote I tried to use when I retired is, "Kids don't care what you know until they know you care."
How do you spend your free time?
I like to help people. I'm trustee at my church, choir member, Sunday school teacher for a lot of years, active in 4-H still, Grange, Civil War roundtable, World War II roundtable.
I like to fix things. In fact, a lady's got me painting tomorrow. One time I had 20 senior citizen ladies; I was their handyman. Some people are reading Golf Digest, and I'm reading handyman magazines because I'd like to find out how to fix something next time.
You've also been a member of Austintown Rotary for three years. What have you done as a Rotarian?
That's definitely international service. We went down to Mexico last winter, 15 of us, and did a painting project in a school. They're working now on the final elimination of polio in the world. It's going to take a push. It's 94 percent eradicated.
When we started, it was like 60 percent of the world was still suffering from polio. Some push in Africa still, some places that are really going through a lot of turmoil. And then there's Afghanistan, still has a problem because of the mountainous people. But it's going to reach them, and it's going to take a push.
You taught history. If you could have breakfast with three famous people from history, who would they be and why?
That's easy. Benjamin Franklin, because of his being a little bit ahead of the time and being involved in so many things. He was a politician, a scientist, a statesman.
Thomas Jefferson, for just about the same reason. Thomas Jefferson was probably the most well-rounded person in the world.
Teddy Roosevelt would be the third. Just ambition galore, and the right man for the right time in history. He probably wouldn't last today because he probably wouldn't get along with Congress.
You've also visited several important historical sites around the world. What's your favorite and why?
I'd have to say New York City. It's modern history, it's ancient history. There's so much going on, you turn every corner and something new has happened, someplace that you can point out, something has happened.
I also like Gettysburg a lot.
What's your favorite local restaurant and why?
This is the hardest one you've asked me so far, because I don't have any real preferences. I go where my wife wants to go.
We like The Roadhouse, because it's informal and we like the baked sweet potatoes, and the atmosphere's kind of neat.