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For each lifetime, there are sentinal moments. There are people that are pivotal. Their influence, even if brief when compared to the length of a life, may be monumental. Mitchell Kaplan, my 10th grade English teacher, was such man. I believe my 10th grade year was the ONLY year he taught public school. He went on to open a little bookstore in Coral Gables called Books & Books. He was and continues to be an instrumental person in the Miami Book Fair and the literary scene. He was one of the first people to shift the paradigm of my life. Jane Estaver, my AP English teacher was another. She was a true maverick. She made us think. We read those banned books and controversial works and she PUSHED us to believe we were MORE. And we were more. Of that class, we all went to college. Most to UF, but several to private colleges. And many went on to graduate school or law school…or medical school. In fact, 3 of us became doctors (that I know of). One is an executive at IBM. A few devoted themselves to the underserved. We were a stunning lot of kids. I think the people we encountered in our education…as much as our families and  their cutural legacies….influenced us to strive upward. I actually do not know much about the deeper background of those other kids. As a public school in what was unincorporated Dade county, we were a mixed lot. There was more racial diversity than I was aware us at the time. There was not much religious diverisity but economically, we were all pretty close.

There are also PLACES that have impact. For me, our nation’s capital is such a place. I went there on Close Up in my junior year in high school. I went again in my senior year. The pulse of that city was so profoundly seductive. I could live there in a heartbeat. If I won the Lotto, I would be easily swayed to have a condo in the DC area. I went to college there and count the withdrawal and transfer to the Univeristy of Miami as one of the few missteps in my life. I will return to this city I hold in my heart for a TOO brief conference this weekend. I will get my fix. To feel the thrum of that place will serve me well. It is not just a place of my youth. It is a place of assurance. It reminds me of my once absolute certainty that I was “becoming”. To return and have the ability to offer back my confirmation is an abundant blessing.

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3 comments

  1. He was the banana teacher! How the heck did that come about? You didn’t mention that he was also very cute.

    What about the CRJH set? Grouchy Hallberg, and little Mr. Hamel. Can not remember the name of the English teacher who would drape herself across her desk in those tight wrap dresses and high-heeled boots then stretch her lips around those big SAT words. It was mesmerizing!

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  2. You are thinking of Jody Willig. She had twins….the son’s name was Sander….And yes, Mr Kaplan was very cute. We were all 15-16 and he was a hot teacher. He must have been what….24-25 at the time?

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  3. Washington, DC has/had that same effect on me…if I could afford it, I could live there in a heartbeat…and I too need a D.C. fix occasionally, and it is now well overdue…lucky you! Enjoy……
    And yes, you were blessed with some awesome teachers, beginning way back at Cutler Ridge Elementary.

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