At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Don't Have To Be A Student's Teacher To Learn From Each Other

I was in the middle of my last hour planning period at school today when the door opened and good times walked in.

Specifically, good times entered the room in the person of Eichel Davis, member of the Westminster Christian Academy Class of 2014.

Eichel is graduating in fourteen days, wrapping up a distinguished high school career in which he has served as class president, been involved in the WCA Student Council (a.k.a. STUCO), and served as a student manager for our Wildcats' football and baseball teams.  He writes for the school paper, the Wildcat ROAR. Eichel also took the step of organizing a student advisory board this year, a group which would take student concerns and wishes to the administration for dialogue and perusal. In short, Eichel has been a busy soul.

Did I mention that Eichel is also a writer? (Little wonder you like him so much, you say!) He has his own self-publishing website, called Created and Written Publications--"Think as if there is no box", he says--which he used to promote and launch his own books such as The Varsity and his Seniors series.

I can't recall when Eichel started dropping by my classroom this year. We had each discovered at one point that the other was a major fan of AMC's The Walking Dead television show. At some point, we began following each other on Twitter, which made for some crazy Sunday evenings when TWD was on. I tend to speed-tweet during the show, and having Eichel (and later on, several others) along for the ride gave me some pleasant company for hashing over the enterprise.

Usually, Eichel would pop into my room on Monday mornings to talk about the most recent episodes and compare notes on what we thought might happen next. We never had a bad conversation. Whether we discussed zombies, writing, his senior integration project for Worldviews class, baseball (we managed to get along even though he loves the Cardinals and I adore the Cubs), basketball (again, the divide came as he loves Missouri and I go with Kansas), and anything else that comes up.

Through this entire year, I've come to look forward to these times with Eichel. We've managed to touch on a lot of the stuff of life, and whether it's about popular culture or what strategies work in writing fiction, I've always learned from Eichel. He's an amazing active listener who is going to parlay his skills well in the next arena of life as he heads off to the University of Missouri.

So today when he walked into my room for about forty minutes before he headed out for Westminster's baseball game (wearing full uniform, as well), I put aside what I was doing and we got to talking. Our chat ranged from baseball to plans for next year to the issue of racism to what St. Louis needs to do to revitalize and reinvent itself ("I mean, we've gotta be more than just the Arch!", said Eichel).

You don't get enriching moments like that every day.

The amazing thing about having this connection with Eichel is that I have never had him in class as a student. I never taught him, either in New Testament or Ethics. But I feel like I've learned from him, and hopefully I've been a positive element in his life. And that's the glorious thing about the world I inhabit: You don't have to be a student's teacher to have a great relationship with them. All that's necessary is to be there. And in that arena, you find you can learn from each other.

Thank you, Eichel. It's been an unforgettable ride. Well done, sir.

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