August 2, 2011

Mentor: Mr. Pfun

This week you were asked to write about a mentor, someone who guided or inspired you. How did your mentor impact your life?

If I were an artist, I would sketch him into a cartoon character. Easily. His head was super big- even for his 6 foot-plus frame. His nose reminded me of a sail on a boat, his dark eyes bulged out behind his thick silver trimmed glasses, and his hair... his floppy, thick, comb-over salt and pepper hair sent it over the top. Especially as it moved in unison with his big mouth when he yelled.
“Mr. Pfun” was a yeller. And he took no shit from anyone- especially the snotty kids whose wealthy parents didn't believe in setting boundaries and teaching respect.
CLS High School came straight from one of those angst ridden teenage films where all the kids looked identical, came to school in their parents’ BMW’s, and thought their shit didn’t stink. It was my fourth (and final) high school in three years (thanks to my mom who couldn't hold a job and was constantly on the run from bill collectors).
On the very first day of my CLS life, I finally found Mr. Pfun's history classroom at the end of a long hallway that had an emergency exit into the cornfields. The final bell already rang, I was the only person in the hallway and was greeted by a locked door.

Mr. Pfun unlocked the door and asked my name and asked if I knew what time it was. I explained that I was new and had never even been down the hall in which the classroom was, and he studied me for a minute before finally allowing me to take a seat and warning me, and the rest of the class, that next time there would be no unlocking of the door.

I was never late again.
What I thought might turn out to be a scary (because of the teacher), boring (because of the subject- History- never a favorite of mine) class turned out to be a lifesaver for me.
Oh how I loved his class. Oh how I adored the way he mocked some of the self-righteous pricks that littered that school and town. Oh how I knew that everything he said about "the real world" and what it would do to most of the students was spot on. Oh how he inspired me to continue to just be me.
It’s been over 20 years now since I’ve taken that class. {20 years!} And I still remember Mr. Pfun. I still remember how he inspired me to believe in myself when nobody else would even give me the time of day. He gave me/the underdog the courage to be different, to think beyond 17 years old. He taught us a lot about American History but did so in a way that allowed us to learn and open our eyes toward our future, too.
Mr. Pfun was a brilliant, yet very humble man. I’ve never had so much respect for someone (other than my maternal grandfather) like I did him.

I can only pray that Lovie encounters a Mr. Pfun or two in her life, too.


  1. Stopping over from TRDC.

    Every kid deserves a teacher like Mr. Pfun. It's a rare gift to inspire a kid that way, but what a difference it makes.

    I loved your descriptions, they helped to paint a vivid image of him to go along with his character. I'm embarrassed I didn't think to do that with my own post. Oops.

    Great writing.

  2. thanks, Penny. when i first saw the prompt, i immediately thought of and envisioned Mr. Pfun... his appearance was definitely a big part of who he was- to me, at least.

  3. I could totally picture Mr. Pfun. It seems some of the best teachers are the toughest, but when kids are pushed to excel, they tend to do it.

  4. There is nothing like a tough teacher to help you find that spot in you that knows you can excel. A great tribute to your teacher.

  5. This is such a wonderful tribute!

    As a teacher, this warms my heart.

    And as a mother, like you, I hope my kids come across a teacher who cares enough to demand excellence!


speak your mind.