Yeargan & Kert - May 2020

THE DEFENSE REPORT

MAY 2020

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THANKING THOSE WHO HELP SHAPE OUR FUTURE HERE’S TO THE TEACHERS

I hope this newsletter finds you and your family safe and well amidst the current public health crisis. Like most of you, this whole “social distancing” thing has made me more than a little stir crazy at times, but it has its silver linings. I’ve definitely gotten a chance to catch up on all the history documentaries on my DVR. And it was while I was scrolling through these programs that I found myself reminiscing about when I first discovered this fascination I have with the past: my eighth grade year. Specifically, my passion for these kinds of documentaries came from my eighth grade history class, thanks to my teacher, Gordon Mathis. He was a fantastic educator, able to make the words in our textbooks come alive — making long gone time periods like the ancient Roman Empire feel approachable and relatable. He brought in little details, like what people liked to eat, to help to humanize the people we learned about. Far from just preparing me for the next grade, Mr. Mathis instilled in me a lifelong curiosity, one that extends beyond just history. That’s the power of a great teacher. They know their job is about more than getting their students to pass the class; they work to impart a love of learning and critical thinking that will serve students the rest of their lives. Doing this usually means going the extra mile for their class, acting as a role model for students to aspire to. This was definitely true of my legal writing professor in law school. Professor Milani was another teacher who could make an otherwise dry subject extremely approachable. As you could imagine, legal writing is, to put it mildly, a dense subject. Yet, Professor Milani was able to break down these complex rules and procedures and guide his class through them step by step. And this was far from the most inspiring part about him. When Milani was 18, he broke his neck in a hockey accident. The event left him permanently disabled: wheelchair-bound and with limited mobility in his arms. Despite these challenges, he never once failed

to come to class in a cleanly pressed shirt and tie and lead a rousing lecture. Even outside the classroom he poured his energy into his students. He made plenty of office hours available to help people one-on-one. I’m eternally grateful to Professor Milani, who not only prepared me for my career but also showed me an inspiring example of how to thrive through adversity. Fittingly enough, Teachers’ Day is observed this month, at a time when it may be more important than ever to show our educators some support. Before school closures, teachers and professors put their own health at risk to be there for their students. After the doors were shut on classrooms, these same mentors worked tirelessly to adapt online tools and resources to continue their courses. The least we can do is give these hardworking members of our community some well-earned recognition.

Here’s to all the teachers working to make the future brighter,

–Jim Yeargan

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