The windows rattled when Mr. McDonnell boomed "Hello!" every morning to the students in the hallways. With the demeanor of a drill sergeant, he even frightened the senior football players who knew him only by sight. On my first day in Mr. McDonnell's English class, I honestly thought that he would kill English for me.
But I soon came to realize that my first impressions of Mr. McDonnell had little to do with the kind of teacher he actually was. He turned out to be one of the most remarkable people I have ever met, and he has had a lasting impact on me - and not only because he scared the wits out of me that first day in class.
Mr. McDonnell loved teaching, and his enthusiasm for his subject was contagious. Reaching beyond the boundaries of the curriculum, Mr. McDonnell taught me to appreciate Shakespeare by using song to illustrate the meaning of love in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". We not only engaged in discussion about the Greek or Chinese myths that we were currently studying, but also debated current affairs and scientific mysteries. He helped create in me a love for English that I will carry through life; thanks to him, I plan on becoming an English teacher.
Mr. McDonnell was truly a role model on whom I could depend. He gave his time freely to help others, and he gave advice and guidance to those who were willing to listen. I am especially grateful to him for encouraging my forays into the world of published writing. I might not have the confidence I now do about my writing skills were it not for his support. He never entirely lost his military manner; whenever we did less than our best on an assignment, he...