Friday, June 17, 2016

The Mark of Mogill

I first saw the news on Facebook. One of my former teachers had passed away. Not just a teacher … my favorite teacher ever. Mr. Mogill was my Physics teacher in high school. I was in his class for just one year. But, what a year it was! I can still see him pacing back and forth in front of the classroom wearing a white shirt, sleeves partially rolled up, with his hands shoved deep into the chalk stained pockets of his black dress pants. Intelligence, humor and kindness were the tools he used to teach a classroom full of teenage know-it-alls. And teach us he did. Not only about physics, but about life. Mr. Mogill respected each of us and expected that we respect him in return. He also demanded 100% of our attention when he was in the midst of an important teaching moment. My most vivid memories happened at this time. With his back to the class while furiously writing on the chalkboard, Mr. Mogill’s superpowers awakened. His all-seeing eyes in the back of his head would focus directly on the student paying the least attention to his lesson. Then, with a ninja-like quickness, Mr. Mogill would suddenly pivot, and what I can only describe as “High Noon” meets “The Matrix” … he would quick-draw a chalkboard erasure from his pocket and project it toward the hapless kid who was giving him “no respect.” SMACK-PUFF! Chalk dust filled the air and for one shocked student, the “Mark of Mogill” could be seen as a rectangular white powder outline dead center on their chest. How Mr. Mogill never missed the intended target and how others in the class were not victims of “friendly fire” is a physics lesson in itself. I remember thinking to myself, “how could this old teacher be so quick and agile?” Of course, I now realize that Mr. Mogill was only 29 years old when I was his student. He was just 12 years older than me at the time. I am sorry that I never made the time to personally thank Mr. Mogill for that magical year and for the life lessons he taught me. But, I can proudly say that, on more than one occasion, I went home with that chalk erasure outline on the front of my chest. More importantly, the true “Mark of Mogill” has been and will always be with me. Rest in Peace Mr. Mogill.

Alexis Timothy Mogill, January 24 1939 - June 4, 2016

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