Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Watson B. Duncan III

I went to PBJC (lovingly nicknamed Peanut Butter and Jelly College). It was really Palm Beach Junior College. Actually, it was not in Palm Beach it was more in Lake Worth....but it was a great place for me to begin my college education. It was there....that my life path was chosen, unbeknownst to me. I knew at the age of 18 that I loved English....and I loved Shakespeare.....and it was all due to a professor called Dr. Watson B. Duncan III.

At 7:15 a.m. on a clear, Florida, fall day I entered the world of English 201 and Dr. Watson B. Duncan III. He greeted each of us at the door.....he was a large, wise, white-haired, tackily dressed man. We were lead to assigned seats and waited anxiously for the class to begin.

The curtains on the stage, heavy, maroon velvet, parted and there was....A BUNNY? Dr. Duncan was dressed, on stage, in a bunny suit and immediately began the day's recitation....Othello! It was very hard not to think of Othello, or even Shakespeare, as boring with a huge, pink, Easter bunny parading on the stage spitting out the lines of Othello to his audience.

After Act I Scene I ended he stopped, took off the bunny head, sat down on the stage and we had an intense discussion of Othello: Act I Scene I. WE had all paid attention, WE had learned, and his last line to the class was, "It's all in the presentation." I guess it is.

Dr. Duncan is dead now but I imagine him talking in heaven with Shakespeare, or God, in the bunny suit. Everytime I see a production of Othello I visualize Dr. Duncan as he was on that Florida fall day and I chuckle to myself(no one else would understand) and I remember.

You see, it is because of Dr. Duncan and Reverend Michael Jones that I teach today. These two men recognized my potential and pushed me to the limit. Every year I ask myself, "will anyone remember my own antics when I am gone?" Dr. Duncan's favorite quote was, "I teach, therefore I act." He did act and I did learn. He knew what the expression, "seize the day" was all about. I wish I could say, "thank you," to this great man. But I think somehow he already knows.....and he is smiling.

I got a thank you note on facebook last week from a student I had in the early 90's. She thanked me for all I did. She went on to say I inspired her to become a teacher and I started digging in my journals to find the entries about Dr. Duncan. He taught me how to teach her and so today as I sit here I know.....I have succeeded. And isn't that all we want out of life?


Mary said...

I have learned through the years that you can't wait to say thank you b/c you may never have the chance again. I had an amazing Philosophy teacher in high school that I wrote a letter to, thanking her for her efforts and for never giving up on me, and gave it to her the day before I graduated.

I have also been blessed with an amazing professor for Anatomy & Physiology 1&2...which I feel is the reason I made it into nursing school. Most of the people in my classes had him, and frequently stop him on campus to chat about classes and thank him for his instruction & guidance. Last week we were talking about graduation in May, and he told of his excitement b/c he knows so many of my classmates.

The world wouldn't function without the dedication of teachers!!!

lagirl said...

Great story and tribute to your former teacher. Learning takes place best when it's fun. And, what a great name, "watson B. Duncan III". Wonder what the "B" stood for? said...

I too had Mr. Duncan and loved his class. He was such an inspiration and an unforgettable force! Thanks for sharing your memories of an incredible man.