During 7th grade, my day always started with English class. At the time, I didn’t know how formative it would be to me over time. I met a lot of people in that class, including one of my oldest friends, Brian. We bullshitted about Final Fantasy III (or VI if you want to be a fucking weeb about it) and it was instant friendship. My teacher at the time was Mrs. Halpin, although she wouldn’t be there for too long because she was due to have a baby. She was pretty chill, and I was a fan of the books she had us read for class.
Eventually, she would be gone. We had a few subs, but then there was Mr. Myette. He became our teacher for the rest of the year, and honestly I don’t think I would’ve had it any other way. This guy was a trip, and unlike any teacher I’d ever had. He loved the Beatles. In fact, he put a picture of them at the edge of the white board right by his desk. He didn’t care too much when I’d use foul language as long as I wasn’t using towards anybody which, if you knew me back then, was unfortunately the brunt of my vulgarities.
I got into a lot of trouble back then. Probably enough for consecutive lifetimes. As an adult, I found out that it was because of the medication I was forced to take. I wanted to be Stone Cold Steve Austin, taking down all authority in my wake. This was also the same year South Park debuted on Comedy Central, and my fat ass also wanted to be like Cartman. Foul jokes, calling people’s mom’s a bitch, on top of flipping off the vice principal and calling him a jackass or a sorry son of a bitch, and that sort of encapsulates 7th grade for me. In my defense, some of that was directed towards people who would harass and bully me. But those stories are for another time.
Through all the bullshit, there was Mr. Myette. He stuck by me, fought for me, and allowed me to be myself within reason. He read us Poe, showed us grown up documentaries, and really did his best to foster growth in his students and let them express themselves.
Speaking of which, let me tell you about the punk rock/magazine collage my friend Tyler and I made on the wall in the back of the class. During this time, my friend Tyler had gotten into punk music. He would bring these catalogs to class, and we’d go through them laughing at some of the album covers (like Diesel Boy’s Strap-On 7 Inch) or talking about different bands. It was the first time I’d ever heard of bands like NOFX, No Use For a Name, the Vandals, stuff like that. Anyway, we sat in the back along the wall. One day, we get this idea to start cutting pictures from the catalogs and different magazines and then stick them to the wall with chewed gum. We fully expected to get in trouble, then Mr Myette comes by and says something like “I like it”. So we went ham for over a week, just posting shit to this wall. My favorite was a picture of Michelangelo’s David wearing a graduation cap that Tyler posted up there, and a word bubble he made that said “fuck the government!”. Eventually, Mr Myette caught hell for letting us make this trashy homage to a punk zine, and we had to take it all down. I don’t think a lot of the other teachers liked him, mostly due to his unorthodox way of teaching us. I like to think that he told those teachers to fuck off, but deep down I know he was too nice to take a page out of my playbook and sling a few F Bombs.
I got to meet up with him when I was 19 after I reached out through an email. He had become a tenured teacher at Patrick Henry High School, and was the coach of the track team. Gone was his signature facial hair and the hair on his head, but he was exactly as I remember him. We went out for Mexican food and talked music almost the entire time. He encouraged me to go to college, and six years later I eventually did. He was part of the reason I considered being an English teacher, but that was an idea that went down the toilet once I got a taste of public education and the bullshit that comes with it. I just know I’d get fired (again) for saying the right thing to the wrong person.
I hope he’s still teaching, or maybe even a principal somewhere. I think kids these days could use an authoritative figurehead who encourages and inspires them, not some discount drill instructor who doesn’t know whether to wind their ass or scratch their watch. If he remembered me, I hope he’d be proud of the person I’m trying to become.