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George Mechem was Right

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate George Mechem on his retirement from Lexington High School, and to wish him well. Mr. Mechem was my high school English teacher during (I think...) junior year. (He was such a presence during my high school experience that it's hard to remember when the class was. Maybe it was sophomore year). At any rate, Mr. Mechem was a passionate advocate of literature, writing and words, not to mention of his students. I still remember snippets of poetry that I memorized for his class. I remember classroom discussions about books like The Heart of Darkness. I remember that I, and others, used to visit him to chat before school sometimes.

But what strikes me most, in looking back, is how the students in the class were all individuals to him. He knew our quirks, and didn't hesitate to call us on them. He cared what happened to us, even if he teased us, and gave us a hard time sometimes. He was the tennis coach, and eventually become Associate Principal, but through it all, what he did was care about and engage with kids.

I owe Mr. Mechem an apology, too. When I was applying to colleges, he told me that I should major in English, because I loved books and enjoyed writing. But, in my youthful arrogance, I dismissed these frivolous reasons for choosing a career, and instead went into Engineering. I thought that it would be more practical (and it was, I suppose). But what I say now, more than 20 years later, as I work on my children's book blog, is: "You were right, George. I should have listened. My life would have been very different, but I think that I would have been happier."

When given the chance to give input on careers to high school and college kids now, I always tell them to think about what they love, and see if they can find a way to use that. And I do that because I learned, a bit later than I should have, that Mr. Mechem was right.

You can read more about Mr. Mechem and his retirement in this Lexington Minuteman article, kindly forwarded to me by my friend Sara. Thanks, Sara! This is the end of an era, and LHS will never be quite the same.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.