Monday, February 8, 2016

Day 39- Mister Ras

I was a good kid in school. I got good grades. Never got in trouble. And generally had a good rapport with my teachers. But my sophomore and junior years were rough. I had a lot of really bad family stuff going on and my parents were in the middle of a nasty divorce, and eventually a move out of state that left me on my own (more on that later). Art class was my escape and Mister Ras (short for Rasmussen, but high school kids do like to nickname) was my savior.
Mister Ras just got me. He was sarcastic. He had a dry sense of humor. He was kind. He was creative. All of the things that I related to. He actually had a daughter in my year, but we didn't really know each other well. Mister Ras was like the ultimate school-dad. He was so cool. He clowned students (in a super hilarious and not mean way) and he didn't take himself too seriously. He was passionate about art. And he wanted us to be passionate about it too. He loved creative students. He was a square looking guy-- but he appreciated my punk rock aesthetic. He always complimented my changing hair colors and assorted piercings and ripped/homemade attire. He got a kick out my weirdness. And he made me feel like I wasn't so weird.
That art room behind those two sets of doors was my home. It was my safe haven. It was the place I could always go to cry, or be pissed, or vent with no judgments. Mister Ras let me use his personal phone to make family related calls so I could hide away. (no cell phones back then, folks) He also let me do my senior project as a mural on an entire wall of the art room. When all else failed, Mister Ras gave me chocolate bars to make my days brighter. Mister Ras saw something in me at a time in my life when I saw nothing in myself. He made me feel special and talented and like I could do anything.
A few months ago, I was thinking about Mister Ras so I searched the internet high and low for him. And then I found his daughter. I emailed her for his info, sent him an email telling him how much he has inspired me through hard times, and then held my breath for a response. My greatest fear was that 17 years later he wouldn't even remember who the hell I was. I was grateful for my unique name.
Not long after, I got a reply. He remembered me. And he told me that remembering me made him smile, and that I was one of the most honest people he had ever encountered. He told me that I made teaching fun. And then he thanked me for being me. I sat there fighting back tears and reading his words and my heart was so full. It is so powerful how much influence a teacher can have on a young persons life. And even more powerful that so many years later, the internet can bring two people back together as adults.
Mister Ras and I keep in touch regularly now. He watches my youtube videos and sends me kind words. Mister Ras is my buddy now, and I think that is pretty cool. And he has a vintage radio collection. Which is also pretty cool.
I hope that when he reads this blog (which he will, because I fully intend on sending it his way when I am done), that he is proud to have made such an impact on my life. I hope that my one small experience puts a smile on his face. And I hope that he eats a chocolate bar in my honor.


  1. As a teacher who takes great pride in her work, I'm really moved by what this man did for you. I'm so glad you had a teacher like him in high school -- so many high school teachers don't step up for their students in the way he did for you. And I can tell you this: your email to him meant as much to him as it means to you. I have saved every single note and email my students have written me, and when I feel discouraged or unmotivated, I pull them out and read them all over again, and it keeps me going.

    1. Here here! I'm a high school teacher as well and I do the same with my notes.

  2. So obviously I'm biased, but this has been my favorite blog of yours to date. I have my Mr. Ras as well, Mr. Holden and now we're buddies as adults as well! Funny, when I reached out to him as an adult I was nervous that he wouldn't remember me either and I had that same thought of, well maybe my unique name will help!

  3. As a high school teacher I can tell you that having a student that takes the time to tell you that you had an impact on their life is so awesome!! We all hope to impact at least one kid.. Good for you for telling him.. I teach World History because of my World History teacher and I finally got the courage to contact him and he passed away 3 months later.. I felt so lucky to get the chance to tell him that he inspired my life's work before he passed


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