Or should I say my favourite man?
Since middle school I’ve always had a knack for interacting with teachers and making them my friends. I like feeling comfortable around them. Being in the same school for the past 12 years also helped. Many of my teachers played a part in shaping the person I am today and are still supportive of me in everything I do. Some people would call me a teacher’s pet but I would not label myself that. My intention is to simply develop a healthy relationship with those I interact with on a frequent basis. Because of my above tendency, many teachers I’ve encountered have become like 2nd, 3rd, 4th moms. I have actually found myself sharing secrets with some teachers that I don’t share with my actual mom!
Fun fact: My actual mother is a Vice Principal at my school who had started off as a teacher.
So when I embarked on my much awaited exchange year in The United States, I truly did feel disheartened to leave behind my school and the gossip and oh especially ,The annual functions! But I was looking forward to new friends from different cultures, a beautiful American family and home, Mac n cheese and endless life changing experiences.
But little did I know, that Watertown High school (Wisconsin, USA), would help me realize that experience is not the best teacher, Dave Pawl is. And yes I spelled Pawl right.
Mr. Pawl taught several Art classes at the High School including AP Art History which I luckily opted for during my year. His classroom was as chaotic and messy as my anxious mind on my first day of school. Yet being there gives you a sense of calm for it’s a place for all the thinkers, artists and believers to unite. It was the one spot in school we could all be ourselves and all our eccentric ideas were welcomed with open arms and dirty paintbrushes.
Mr. Pawl is more than just a supportive, cheerful, nice as pie teacher who also really knows what he’s talking about in class.
He is completely nuts to the point where he made us do amateur acrobatics to understand architecture and wear Togas all around school for a day because “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. And we were only studying the Romans. We were also graded on making memes on art pieces that we happily enjoyed. But the best exercise he made us do was when he made us create our favorite architectural art piece using French toast sticks and waffles which we got to feast on later.
But apart from Pawl’s creative teaching style ( trust me it works), my adulation for him extends to his personality and his persistent vibe. His humor and inappropriate jokes seemed to make every day as simple as his perspective on the world. His high fives in the hallway and a casual wannabe “SUP?” is all I needed in my day to develop a more positive outlook.
You see the thing about him was that despite all the stress, worries and work in life, I’ve seen that man put on his sublime smile and crack a corny joke. I have never seen him furious, upset or berate someone. He let many students take advantage of his charm and carefree attitude but never once lost himself in the madness. He just created his own classroom madness.
He is no less than a wayfarer. He had visited many of the art pieces already that we had been studying, except the Taj Mahal in India which I would love to give him a tour of someday. His duende for art evoked my love for the same. I traveled to New York with him and the class where we visited various museums and he gave me the chance to physically be in the same room as some of the world’s greatest art pieces. He gave me the chance to be in my favourite city in the whole world. He also let us all watch the second most inappropriate Broadway show where he couldn’t stop laughing. Silly Pawl.
Despite all his quirks, Pawl is a mature man with a strong will to just spread happiness in the creaks of the world where it does not exist. He taught me how to appreciate the very little beauty left around us and how to make the most of it. He never takes anything too seriously and an appropriate example of that would be when I was in the passenger seat of his car and he recklessly drove down Main Street and said to me “This is why I don’t have insurance!!”
I hope you have insurance, Pawl.
You can find him in the West wing of WHS wearing tan pants with a smiling potato video playing on his laptop, a bag of chips in his hand, a ludicrous class activity on his mind and the greatest sense of art.