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Like all of us, I had many good teachers in school.

Naturally I had a few not so good teachers, as well — but they will be the subject of another article at another time. Today the subject is our good teachers; in fact its about our favorite teachers.

The really good teachers left their marks on us. There’s one teacher in particular that I still think about even though it has been more than forty years since I stepped foot in his English class.

Eleventh Grade English: Mister Canney

My all-time favorite teacher was Mister Daniel Canney who taught junior English, a study of American Literature, at Long Beach Poly High School in Southern California.

At that time Mister Canney was probably in his mid to late 30s. He sported a full head of dark hair that he kept trimmed in an Ivy-league style and he had sad, bloodhound eyes.

He was always neatly dressed – razor creased trousers, spit-shined shoes, starched shirts with ties tied in perfect Windsor knots. He wore crisply pressed blazers or wool sport coats but frequently sacrificed them for cardigan sweaters.

Mister Canney would not tolerate disrespect — but even with the best of teachers there is always a detractor. In our class it was one Robert Connerelli.

One day, when we were right in the middle of a discussion about the O’Henry short story The Ransom of Red Chief, Connerelli made some smart remark about Mister Canney’s sweater.

Mr. Canney stopped, clasped his hands behind his back, and slowly started walking.

The classroom went completely silent.

He walked across the front of the classroom, down the east wall, across the rear of the classroom, up the west wall by the windows, back to the front and then down Bob’s aisle until he was standing in front of Connerelli’s desk.

In a very calm voice he said: “Mister Connerelli, get out.”

Bob thought he was being sent to the office which required a pass. He asked: “You sending me to the office?”

Mister Canney, restrained, simply once again replied “Get out.”

Connerelli was perplexed: “Where should I go? I need a hall pass.”

Just as calmly Mister Canney answered “I don’t care where you go, Mr. Connerelli. Just go. Get out. Now.”

I have no idea where Connerelli went. But once he left, Mister Canney walked back to the front of the class and resumed the discussion as though nothing had ever happened.

It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. Everyone in that classroom that day took Mister Canney’s 11th grade English class very seriously after that.

write by Dalziel

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