May 2016 Issue
June 03, 2016


Source: NYSUT United

With a twinkle, a tear, a grin, music teacher inspired

As a parent, I have tried to emulate a great high school teacher, S. Talbot Thayer, who taught at Calhoun High School in the Bellmore-Merrick School District on Long Island for 30 years. Prior to that, he taught for five years in Monticello.

With his passing, I reflect on how he was able to get from us our very best. Mr. Thayer taught students in the Department of Vocal Music, but he taught much more than music.

He reinforced lessons already taught by my parents and rewarded, as they did, great effort with accolades, ear-to-ear grins and an astounded look that said, "You are amazing!"

We, his students, individually and collectively, LOVED those non-material rewards. We WORKED OUR TAILS OFF, not merely to avoid disappointing him, but to EARN, and just as importantly, to KNOW that we had WORKED to EARN his admiration.

HE admired US.

How inspiring that was to a child! To be rewarded with "a moment in the sun," to earn that pause he took, stopping rehearsal to bask either the entire choir, or on occasion, one person in the choir, in the warmth of the twinkling eye, the joyful grin, the look of admiration that left him momentarily overcome and speechless, followed by the tear, the shake of the head, the return of his composure, and sometimes a dramatic but, more often, a simple "thank you."

When Mr. Thayer took the entire choir's time to personally admire me in his own way, earning that admiration was, as they say, priceless.

Jeanine Ricchetti | Sanford H. Calhoun High School Choir, class of 1979
Mental health counselor,
Bridges International, Orlando

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