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SALK Day 5 – The Ruth-Mr. D Story – Part 3

My classmates and I who took all the advanced science classes at St. Vincent High School had Mr. DeShazer twice a day during our junior year for Advanced Placement Biology and Honors Chemistry.  They were some of my hardest classes but also my most enjoyable classes.  My classmates and I have been reminiscing about high school memories the last few days…

Chemicals in flasks (including Ammonium hydrox...
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The ceiling of Mr. DeShazer’s classroom had what appeared to be circular burn marks on it.  As sophomores we had no idea why they were there.  As honors chemistry students, we learned that they were created by bubbles that we ignited.  Neat Stuff!!

Before every chemistry lab, we had to write out the procedure, including a section about safety precautions.  Since this was a high school lab, this usually meant “Wear your goggles” and “Be careful when working with acid.”  Somehow we got into the habit of adding safety reminders like “Don’t chew glass.”  Mr. D. went along with it as long as we had the real information in there too.  I think he was entertained by us and joined in our lightheartedness as long as we were serious about the science.

The school created a more restrictive dress code while we were students.  Our rebellious response was to follow the dress code but to wear the most outrageous things we could.  One day my friend BJ walked into class wearing a neon orange reflective safety vest over his shirt.  Without skipping a beat, Mr. D. said, “I see BJ was out directing traffic this morning,” and went on with the class.  It was hilarious because he understood what we were doing.

Sesame Street is doing something right by connecting learning to music.  Mr. D. is doing the same thing.  When we were learning about the ideal gas law, he played a song for us about it: “talkin’ heavy duty chemistry…we’re talkin’ PV=nRT!”  My classmates and I have not heard this song for 16 years, but we still remember it.

I have never met the great Mrs. D.  She must be a wonderful woman because she puts up with the great Mr. D. and she made us mini muffins on the day of the national A.P. Biology test – a four-hour exam that determined whether we got college credit for taking the class.  She knew it was a big deal and did what she could to help us.

Mr. D. had a strict rule about no food in the lab, except for one day a year.  At the end of junior year, after the A.P. Biology test, Mr. D. chili cheese omelets with wild cantrell mushrooms and bagels with truffle butter for his A.P. Bio students.  A.P. Biology was one of the most work-intensive classes I took in high school.  We had a test about every three days, and he pushed us hard to prepare for that test.  I think the end of the year breakfast was a congratulations/thank you celebration.

If any other St. Vincent graduates want to share their DeShazer experiences, please let them as comments.

Click here for Part 4 of the Ruth-Mr. D Story.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsors are Darvin and Jane DeShazer. For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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2 Comments

  1. Sara Shea says:

    I have been absolutely tickled all week reading about your exploits in Mr. D’s class, Ruth. As you know, I am currently pursuing my Masters in Education so that I can be a high school English teacher. Posts like this remind me why I want to go into teaching, and is an excellent example of a Master Teacher at work. To be sure, it was the teachers at St. Vincent that oh-so-insidiously left their mark on my academic career–and lit the teaching fire underneath my heart.

    Mr. D’s teaching style is definitely Neat Stuff! Yes, he was exacting and demanding–but he also knew how to make students feel every once in a while like they were learning without effort. He wasn’t (and isn’t!) afraid to let class time be fun–which is often its own reward. I was never a good biology student. But I also never felt like an idiot in Mr. D’s class, which was especially important as a public school transfer student.

    (I do wonder, however, how my younger brother Tim fared in Mr. D’s class. . .if he enjoyed the banter, or grimaced every time Shea walked into the room. . .)

  2. Darv DeShazer says:

    Sara – It’s great to read that you are going into teaching. I wish all the luck in the world. We need more teachers.

    As for Tim, let’s just say “We had a lot of parent conferences his sophomore year.” and let it go at that!