Angel here.  Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and I am celebrating Mr. Claypool, my Sophmore Algebra teacher.  He taught me some very important life lessons.

I think back on this class and how much fun we had.  Two of my very best friends in the world to this day were in there with me and we made the best of every period we were in there.

I'm sure you're thinking it's math class right?!  Well, early on in the year we figured out that Mr. Claypool loved talking about planes and the service and we knew the trigger words to get a good ole' story started and everyone in the class would breath a sign of relieve as he pulled his chair up and sat back and put his hands behide his head.  We would settle in and listen to him tell us about the old days.

Mr. Claypool was a mid-mannered gentleman.  He never raised his voice at us and we were a bit talkative at times.  Especially the four of us in the back right corner.  He would give us a glare and we would immediately straighten up.

One story I will never forget was the time we decided it would be a good idea to steal a test.  The unit seemed impossible and everyone in the class was on the struggle bus.  We cooked up a plan.  On the day of the test we were feeling pretty good.  Our group finished the test in record time and left class feeling pretty darn good.

The next time we met Mr. Claypool had our tests graded.  He explained to the class that he could tell it was a hard one because many students failed it.  Then he went on to say but 4 students seemed to get it all so well they all got 100%.  I could feel the blood leave my body!  But wait, he didn't call us out.  This is how awesome he was.  He proceeded to say he discovered the test was missing from his office and whoever took it had until the end of the day to confess.  That was the most gut wrenching thing I had to do at 15.  Talk about swallowing your pride and learning a lesson in honesty.  I was the first to go to his office.  I think I cried the whole time.   He gave us all 50% for the test.  That wasn't the worst thing for me.  It was knowing I dissappointed him.  I was a silly teenager.  I didn't think.  What I did know is that changed the course of how I conducted myself in class.  Now I still talked and acted silly but never again did I do something like that.

Mr. Claypool retired one year after I was in his class.  I would like to think it wasn't because of students like us!

I actually had the pleasure of running into him a few weeks ago at Dee's Diner.  Him and one of his football buddies sat right behind us in a booth.  I turned around and told him who I was and how he was one of my very favorite teachers.  He smiled and told me her remembered us.  And then...in true Mr. Claypool fashion he told me a story!  This time my whole family got to hear and then I shared with them what I did all those years ago.  He even invited me out to visit his wild flower field in the summer.

Tommy Claypool taught me about life lessons, integrity, to slow down, and to share.  He was not focused on tests, or math lessons, or common core.  I learned more in class that year than I did in most of my classes all through high school.

Today I am thankful for his grace, sterness, and love for his students.