Most people would define a good teacher as someone who makes students excel academically and do well on tests. I believe a great teacher is someone who has many dimensions, a teacher who makes his or her students want to go to class and hear what they have to say. Mr. Isaacson was that teacher for me. He taught Language Arts and Literature. He had a demeanor about him, unlike any teacher I have ever had. He was tall with a long gray goatee and he had a bald head that would glisten in the lights from the room when he would lecture. I could never tell what he was thinking because of his grave and focused face. Mr. Isaacson was full of sarcasm, advice about the world and how it should be lived, and how a simple novel can mean much more than its underlying summary.
Prior to my attendance in his class, he also taught my three sisters.
Each of my sisters told me how much they loved Mr. Isaacson and what a great teacher he was. The first day I walked into his class during my junior year, I was confused about what the big deal was. From my first impression, he seemed dull and monotone. I could never guess what he was thinking because of his stone cold glare when sitting at his desk, but when he opened his mouth and starting talking about literature, I could see him come alive. He had a soothing and expressive voice. Everything he would say sounded intriguing and interesting. A new book was assigned every month; then he would question all students on content. Most people did not read the books, especially senior year, and he was aware of it. This is when he would make his witty comments and sarcastic statements when questioning students about the book. His most famous line was, “B.S to success.” Even though he knew no one read the book, he would still let us answer his questions even if it was completely wrong. When someone was done answering a question incorrectly, he would say, “Man, that would be really cool if it did happen.” Then he would laugh at his joke even if it was not funny. Mr. Isaaccson was able to make any situation, book, or problem be an obstacle a person had to face and to learn from it to better one’s self.
Mr. Isaacson was able to take a single lecture and make it relate to our own lives, beliefs, and problems. Over the years I learned not only was he an author and a lawyer, but somehow he accidently became a Rabbi for the U.S. Navy and was not even Jewish. He was able to make something so bizarre like that and somehow convey it back to literature or other life experiences. One of my favorite things I learned from him was the concept of existentialism. I remembered being so fascinated with the ideas and beliefs of the philosophy because of the way he would describe and correlate it to real life. Mr. Isaacson’s class to me was more than an English class, but more of a life lesson.
When it comes to books, Mr. Isaacson knew everything there was to know about them. Even though it was his job to know it did not seem like it. Literature was his passion and hobby. He even wrote his own novel based on a romance. Every student was surprised to find out about his book because he did not seem like the romantic type. Books like The Great Gatsby, My Name is Asher Lev, and 1984 were among his favorites and soon became mine as well. Every book we read, he somehow was able to associate it to today’s culture and expectations. I learned never to conform to society’s standards and dare to be different all because of Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden. The way he explained the book in a deeper meaning made all students think of how we could relate it to our own lives. Books to him were not just words on paper, but something he felt he had to share his love and appreciation for to younger generations, so we too could admire the message and the characters just as much has he did. This is exactly what he did for many of my classmates and me.
Throughout the years Mr. Isaacson became more of a role model than a teacher. I could go up to him for anything and not be judged. He passed away on September 29, 2016. Though his time on earth was cut short, he left an enormous legacy. Mr. Isaacson impacted so many students to become better writers, readers, and persons. It is very hard to encounter teachers like him; this is why I can appreciate everything he taught me and all the other students who had the honor of having him as their teacher. Mr. Isaacson will forever and always be that one teacher who changed me as a student and person.
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