I was lucky enough to have Mr. Z for both 3rd and 4th grade. I still remember sitting with my best friend at the time Ian Bliss as we opened up the packet that let us know who our teacher would be. Ian’s mom, Melanie, worked at the school so she worked it so that we would get the new teacher Mr. Z. The class was combined, 3rd and 4th grade. Mr. Z was the new talk of the school. He was THE teacher to have! He told stories in funny voices, challenged us with schoolwork (somehow making it enjoyable), and he did his own P.E. class which was so much fun! My favorite part of Mr. Z’s class was P.E. I feel lucky that I had him when he did that. It was the best!! We played all sorts of fun games and got the exercise we needed. My favorite was the Star Wars game.
As I reflect on my elementary school years, I find that the majority of my memories are because of this great man. Because of my connection with Melanie, Mr. Z became more than just a teacher. He was already a role model, but also a friend. One of the most inspiring memories I have with him was when I was 9 years old.
My ward participated in a 50/ 20 (50 miles in 20 hours) and I wanted to join. I remember making it past the half way point when every person in my group slowly dropped out. When I was the last one standing, I was moved up with the group just ahead of us and continued the trek with them. This group was too fast for my little legs and I eventually was convinced to stop. I went home and was disappointed. My mom had already bought ice cream and treats to celebrate, but I didn’t finish. After a lot of thought and some help I decided to go back and finish.
My dad took me to the place where I stopped and together we moved forward. As I came down the last street I saw a crowd of people cheering for me. At the end of the line was Mr. Z. I remember his redish car parked in the street playing music as he stood there grinning. He had even set up a finish line for me to break through as I walked the final steps. I can still picture his smiling face as he congratulated me. This guy knew how to make a kid feel special. I don’t know whose idea it was to contact him, but I know that he cared enough to come out there and not only support me amongst the crowd, but to make his presence known. I love this man. He taught me so much in and outside of the classroom. I have countless memories with him. I feel like I could go on and on sharing them. I love him and will miss him.