An essay: My Most Inspirational Teacher in High School

In March 2003, Earl Legleiter, a modeler in a small town in Kansas, wrote, "Recently our seniors at the high school were asked to write an essay in English regarding their most inspirational teacher or mentor throughout high school. I was fortunate enough to have a student write about me. I thought it would be fitting to send you the essay, since she did a nice job of describing the Modeling Method from a student's point of view."



"And I said to myself, 'Earl, what were you thinking?'" Many students heard this phrase from a certain science teacher with a great sense of humor: Mr. Earl Legleiter, teacher of physics and chemistry at ___ High School.  A true character, Mr. L revealed great interest in teaching. I saw him as one of the few educators who actually works with a student until the student completely understands the topic. For three years I sat among my peers in his classroom. He taught me conceptual physics, chemistry, and physics. Out of all of my educators, I liked his teaching style the best because he used consistent techniques. When a student finally understands a certain concept the student's eyes light up and a look of relief floods his face. Mr. L dedicates himself to bringing out this light in all of his students.


Students in Mr. L's classes did not usually use textbooks. Often we worked out of a packet of worksheets he compiled himself. At the beginning of a new unit we conducted an experiment. Mr. L split the class into groups of three and we performed and analyzed our own experiments. He expected us to draw our own conclusions and form our own mathematical models for explaining the experiment. The groups I participated in sometimes came up with the correct mathematical model from our own data. These experiments sometimes seemed as simple as analyzing the acceleration due to gravity. When our group finally arrived at the appropriate value, I never forgot that equation or how to apply it to other problems.


At the conclusion of our experiments Mr. L assigned us a worksheet. The worksheet dealt with our new-found knowledge. The next class we used small white boards and erasable markers to document a certain problem, write out our work, and discuss the answer. Mr. L gave each group a problem to write on a white board so the class understood the entire worksheet. Each group presented its work. Mr. L sat among the other students and raised his hand to ask such questions as, "Why is the velocity negative?" Of course, he knew the answer. He asked those questions to discover what knowledge the students learned. Other students also asked questions and became interested in their classmates' work and success.


An outsider might not fully understand Mr. L's technique. However, I supported his style and felt great when I left class because I knew I had learned a new skill. In all of my other classes I sometimes just skipped a topic I did not understand. In physics, though, I always wanted an explanation -- all the students did. We all used the white board presentations as ways to help each other and ourselves.


Not only did Mr. L use awesome techniques in the classroom, but he also possessed a delightful sense of humor. He treated his students like adults and never looked down on them. A person easily saw how much Mr. L loved science when they saw him in action. I remember when he explained a question regarding motion maps. He started to draw one and kept going until he drew all over the wall and door. We all thought he went crazy. After that no one ever fell asleep in physics.


...Sometimes our class caused chaos and confusion as we tried to organize ourselves when we performed experiments. Mr. L always came prepared to sort out any confusion. He raised his hand for silence and then calmly led us into a planned agenda. All of his students liked the system Mr. L used to keep his classes on schedule.


... Mr. L deserves the title of Educator of the Year because he works more diligently with students than any other teacher... Mr. L caused my years at ___ High School to be enjoyable and exciting. He played a large part in my decision regarding my own future as he led me to pursue my interest in science. Without Mr. L's encouragement and helpfulness, I might not have developed a love for physics. ... I will never forget his great sense of humor and wonderful style of teaching.