Master Teachers in My Life

In my meandering life, I have been taught by many masterful teachers whose face-to-face teaching changed me, counseled me, inspired me, nurtured me, sharpened me, enlightened me. Sometimes these people (including a dog) didn’t even know they were teaching me. They just did what they did in the natural course of their lives and I was taught something special.

My latest masterful teacher is named Joe, who trained me for a custodial job that I recently worked. He is easily one of the best teachers I have ever encountered, one of those pure educators who run on instinct and exude effortlessness with their instruction because what and how they teach have become central to their beings. They flow when they educate, but there is no flamboyance to it.

Working alongside Joe got me thinking about all the masterful teachers in my life. I started making a list in my mind and would like to share them in no particular order. It’s a good exercise in examining your past that perhaps everyone should try.

Parents and step parents


The late Father Andy Duffner (former head of the Nestucca Sanctuary)

Cindy Popp (ex-wife and lifelong friend)

Mr. Jim Ritacco Sr. (little league baseball coach in Oregon City)

Doug Winn (pictured in the accompanying graphic, my creative writing teacher in high school)

Nancy Icenogle (English teacher who compelled me to memorize Shakespeare)

Doug Bansch, Katy Sauber, Nancy Bechtold (elementary teachers at Mt. Pleasant Elementary in Oregon City)

Amira Shagaga (my collaborator on many creative endeavors)

Ed (a solo Canadian traveler I met in Cairo)

Janet Donkle (friend)

Ray (stray dog found on Highway 101 that became my first pet in almost 20 years)

Professor David Horowitz at Portland State University

Judy Gall (friend)

Doris Brenan (friend)

Brian Hanna (former teaching colleague)

Jim Harrison (author)