2018 has been a rough year. I learned this past Thursday that one of my favorite teachers passed away from a quick battle with cancer. I wasn’t able to attend the memorial service for him in my hometown this weekend, but I will take a moment of personal privilege to remember a teacher who had a big impact on my life.
I first had Michael Jenkins as a teacher my sophomore year in high school: Honors World History. His class was challenging, but I believe it was a cake walk compared to his AP US History class that I took my junior year. I remember him coming into class and saying that he’s going to teach it just like a college class. That meant he was going to do a lot of lecturing, and we were going to do a lot of note taking.
He liked to talk, and he did a great job sticking to the topic at hand. That’s not to say that our class didn’t try to divert his attention with current events. This was 2002-2003, and Mr. Jenkins expressed his displeasure with President George W. Bush and the Iraq War on multiple occasions. Me being the young conservative that I was didn’t agree with him, but it was fun to watch him go round and round. He appeared gruff (the picture above is how he normally looked), but he was a man who had a passion for education and a love for his students.
I didn’t have Mr. Jenkins as a teacher my senior year in high school, but I was on the academic bowl team. You get to know a person (and a team) in practices and car rides to matches. My respect for him deepened. We had discussions and debated issues, and I believe that helped deepen my appreciation for discussing current events with someone who may be diametrically opposite of you. We may not have agreed with each other’s positions, and we may have walked away a little flustered (probably the young me more so than him), but we respected each other and were friends.
Time can cause people to drift apart, but he would occasionally get on Facebook with an update or a snarky comment. Mr. Jenkins had a tremendous impact on my life, and I know he impacted the lives of other students. Even those who didn’t attend Ridgeland High School. He was a father, grandfather, husband, and well-respected educator. His distinctive booming voice may be gone from this Earth, but his legacy lives on in each of the students’ lives he touched.
Rest well, Mr. Jenkins. You will be missed.