Thank you, Mr. Marr

I was invited to participate in the #redThanks teacher tribute project with wherein writers share stories on themes of mentorship, role models and/or teaching — stories of a "gift" deserving of a thankful tribute. This is my story, served up in a letter of thanks. This is not a sponsored post.

Dear Mr. Marr,

Bruce Marr, Woodland Park High SchoolIt's been more than three decades since I last saw you, last attended your high-school psychology and sociology classes that were a highlight of my high-school career. Yet the hours I spent learning from you matters far beyond the required class curriculum continue to affect me day in and day out — as a writer, wife, mother, grandmother, friend and as a woman scribbling away in hopes of making her mark on the world. For this and so much more I give you thanks.

For starters, I chalk up a fair portion of my love of movies to you. All those years ago, you were brave and bold in taking your students — me included — to view the heartbreaking film The Elephant Man. After the end credits rolled, you stood in front of the crowd of sniffling teens, unashamed of the tears streaming from your own eyes, and reiterated the themes of loneliness, longing, compassion for those who look different than us and the shameful, unforgivable inhumanity of some toward their fellow men. I will never forgotten your powerful lesson supported by that pain-filled film.

Similar acts of bravery for the betterment of your students were many. Things such as taking us teens on a field trip to the state mental institution — and gently reminding me it is not called an insane asylum rather than scolding me for my use of that non-PC term when I questioned the value of such an outing.

Then there was the brave act of staying calm in front of the class when another teacher burst through your classroom door to announce in breathless panic that President Ronald Reagan had been shot. You assuaged the fears and questions of the kids before you rather than racing to gather with other faculty to await word on the president's condition.

Mr. MarrMr. Marr's farewell in my senior book.Beyond exemplifying strength and compassion, you taught me all about "delusions of grandeur" — a term which has forever lodged in my mind for some reason — as well as the importance of my dreams. Not dreams focused on setting goals and achieving them, but real dreams dreamt in the night. Dreams of babies in boxes and losing what matters. You clarified that deciphering the dreams of the night helps us make it through the day with a better understanding of ourselves and, yes, those elusive dreams we hope to attain while awake.

And simply by being yourself and watching you conduct yourself day in and day out, you also showed me what genuine affection for a spouse looks like, that having no children does not mean having no life, and that shared gifts of travel or realizing joint goals together means far more than presents wrapped up in pretty paper and ribbons. And it must be mentioned that you also were the first to introduce me to the coolness of corduroy slacks, sweaters with elbow patches and Hush Puppy shoes — without even realizing you'd done such a thing, I'm sure.

Yet all of the above pales greatly in comparison to the most important lesson you taught me, which was that I deserved more. While the teacher whose classroom was right next to yours nicknamed me Smiley, you saw beyond the smiles, saw I was hurting and scared and needed an adult to direct me. When no other adult threw me a lifeline, you stayed after school to tell me what I needed to hear, and that was to get out. Get out of the bad relationship with the bad boy my fellow students found so charming.

And why wouldn't they find my then-boyfriend charming, irresistible? He was the golden boy, the cool kid, the quarterback, the organizer of school protests, the rich kid who threw parties, laughed easily, garnered attention from all the girls, adoration from all the guys.

Yet he chose me. The girl from the bad family, the one whose friends weren't allowed to stay at her house because of the stories. The one who had no money. The one who held no equally irresistible charms.

That golden boy chose me.

He also hurt me. He hurt my feelings, my self esteem, my body, mind and soul. I'm not sure if you saw the wounds, but you saw that, advised me to get out of that.

I admit I was scared but eventually followed your advice. I got out, got on without him, got a far better life than the one I would have had without your intervention. (Especially considering that the golden boy's life will, I recently learned, be forever spent behind bars. No parole. No early release. Forever.)

Mr. Marr farewellThe last thing you said to me — well, wrote to me — all those years ago was that you were glad I was part of your life. But I, Mr. Marr, am so very glad you were a part of my life. You not only changed my life you saved my life.

Thank you, Mr. Marr.

Forever grateful,

Lisa (Aukema) Carpenter

Today's question:

What teacher most impacted your life?