Such is Life
Life happens, people die, it sucks, but that is what they do. Last week another life ceased, and that life was of someone I consider my first mentor. As a Christian I have had a few different mentors, all of which have taught me valuable lessons on what it meant and means, to live a life in Christ, but this mentor, taught me something different.
Where I Come From…
Let me first paint a picture of the small town school system I grew up in. I will preface this by saying I do not know the state of the system today, and so anything said here is of a time somewhat removed. Over the years I was in the DeKalb County School system, a large percentage of what I thought a teacher was came from people who constantly complained about their job, who were underpaid, overworked, and did more talking at you, then teaching to you. There was a factory across the street from the middle school and high school that we often joked, our teachers goals were to by the time we graduated, teach us to take a right turn instead of a left each morning. Our school system did nothing more than try to inspire students into mediocrity, factory work, and careers to just pay the bills…and for me that is what many of my teachers destined me for, until I met Mr. Isabell.
“A Faint Glimmer of Civilization”
Mr. Isabell was a teacher of mine throughout middle school, I sat as a pupil of his for four consecutive years. While he taught me a variety of subjects that were mandatory for a middle school student, there were so many other subjects I learned from him, that were not. Before Mr. Isabell my idea of a good film was Space Jam, a good book Goosebumps, but after him, after all the works, authors, films, programs, art, and music, what I considered good before, was nothing more than garbage, in the vast wasteland of the mainstream, trending, pop culture world. What makes this world I was exposed so important is that it still influences my life today, and as a Christian, a Christian who speaks, teaches, preaches, what he taught me about standards for the arts we expose ourselves to, in my mind is still invaluable even now. No, he did not teach me about theology, hermeneutics, homiletics or anything Bible but he created in me a skill that has helped as I put those subjects into practice.
As a teacher in the DeKalb County School System I will describe Mr. Isabell with this quote “There are still faint glimmers of civilization, left in this barbaric slaughterhouse, known as humanity…he was one of them.” Anybody can teach for money, and many do, but he taught for something so much more, for students over lessons, for people over curriculum and for that I will always be grateful. Few teachers back then invested in me, saw potential in me, had hope in me, the way Mr. Isabell did, and as I prepare to be a teacher myself, if I can set even a quarter of the tone for students lives, that he set when I sat under him, I will be a good teacher indeed. Mr. Isabell was an exceptional teacher because he was an exceptional man, and I believe I speak, not just for myself, but many others. when I say, he took unexceptional students and taught us how to do exceptional things.
As the local newspapers send out their poorly written obituaries which do injustice to the life of John Isabell, I send this out in hopes of giving a little testimony to his name. To you sir, my hope is that someday, in eternity, you and I will cross paths again, only to talk about a little more than books we were reading and films we were watching. Your race was ran dear man.