Walking into my ninth period class on the first day of school during my freshman year, I was feeling excited for the school day to finally end. One more period and I would have survived my first day of high school. But hey, it was Global Studies, so it should be an easy class, right? Dr. Andrew Jeter was standing at the front of his room behind his podium when the bell rang and class began.
I will never forget his first words to the class. These may not be his exact words, but it went something along the lines of this. “I have never taught this class before nor will I ever teach it again. I’m not even a social studies teacher, I’m an English teacher. I have no idea what I’m doing, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Needless to say, his introduction did not instill a feeling of confidence within me. His claim that he didn’t know what he was doing became very apparent within the first few weeks of the semester.
Early on in the class, he gave us one of the most terrible assignments I have ever received as a high school student: to memorize all 196 countries in the world. Not only did we have to know all of the countries, we needed to be able to recognize it on a map and know the spelling of each country. This was the first of many moments where I thought he was certifiably crazy.
This task seems daunting enough in itself, especially for a freshman. I hated every minute of it. I kept wondering, why would I ever need to know all of the countries in the world?
As the weeks went on, we started to stray further and further away from the material other Global Studies classes were learning. Take, for example, when we were supposed to be learning all about the ancient Chinese civilizations. Instead of just learning about the culture, we memorized the order of the major Chinese dynasties, thanks to a song created by some Harvard professors (Here’s the link to the video, but beware because it’s catchy).
I remember finals week being a terrible time. Not only did I have all of my other classes to worry about, but I also had to cram an entire semester’s worth of learning into two weeks. I did the impossible: I survived.
This year, as a senior, I once again had Dr. Jeter for Honors College Prep. For anybody who knows Jeter, this means I had to write the infamous “one-word essay.”
The task is exactly as it sounds. You write an entire essay all about one word. You may think this sounds easy, but I can assure you it is not. You have to define your word, meet the minimum page requirements, and incorporate whatever task he wants into your essay. In my essay, I had to include the words “shrubbery,” “basoon,” and “cassowary” while making references to the various movies and books that we were given. In total, I think my finished essay was around 44 pages. Still think it sounds easy?
When I look back at my high school career, I can honestly say Dr. Jeter is one of the teachers that has had the greatest impact on me. He teaches in a way that is unlike anyone else in this school. It may be a bit unconventional at times, but it is always for a reason. You never knew what was going to happen in his class, and I loved that. We’d go from watching a movie to discussing philosophy in an instant.
Having Dr. Jeter as a teacher reinforced the idea that people aren’t always going to hold your hand. You have to learn how to do things on your own and work hard for the things you want. Neither one of his classes would I consider to be easy. I wasn’t going to just be given an A, I had to work hard for the grade I wanted.
So thank you, Dr. Jeter, for teaching me how to think smarter, how to work harder, and what the meaning of the word “schnertz” is.