Teacher Appreciation Day

Over 20 years ago, a teacher walked into my high school study hall and literally changed the path of my life. Mr. Bentley chose myself and a handful of other students to help out with his Graphic Arts Studio. He told me that I would merely be helping out with a few printing and layout projects for the school and, in the process, get an easy A … this honor student was sold.

But what I got was so much more than a boost in my GPA. I fell crazy in love with the graphic arts and the Adobe (and Quark!) software suites. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Mr. Gerald “Jerry” Bentley was the kindest, most supportive and fatherly teacher you could imagine. Once when I asked him to write a letter of recommendation for my application to design school, he didn’t simply write of my design skills or work ethic. He closed the letter with a phrase I will never forget: “Melissa is the kind of young woman I would want my daughter to grow up to be like.” As a typical invincible and completely unsentimental high school kid, that phrase rocked my world that a teacher could and did write that about me. Sure, I had taken his class for a solid three years in a row at that point so he probably knew me pretty well, but he saw me in a light that I hadn’t even thought to imagine myself in yet. That single phrase that he typed out made me strive to be a better person every day — for him, for his daughter, and, of course, for myself so that I was worthy of that statement. And now that I have my own daughter, the power of his words have only magnified and I’m even more motivated to make him proud of my life and career.

So, thank you, Mr. Bentley, on Teacher Appreciation Day and every day for the rest of my life. I miss you, dearly.

 

Gerald A. Bentley
August 16, 1945  – December 16, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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