Teacher’s Travel Promise Fulfilled, 40 Years Later

Lucky students can recall one or two teachers from their academic career that stand out as truly motivational. That motivation can come in a number of ways too. Some engage us with thought-provoking discussion. Others insist on the best from us. A very few plant seeds that take root in our young minds and will blossom later in life. I had the pleasure of having one that hit all that and more.

In 8th grade Social Studies class we had a teacher with a love for travel and world history. Mr. Hoobing’s passion was so intense that when studying ancient Rome, students were required to hand-draw renderings of iconic structures to exact scale.

Over the course of the semester there were probably a dozen of those drawings, many of which were rejected if not totally accurate. But by the end of that grading term, most students had a greater understanding about what it took to build them so long ago, when modern construction techniques had not even been thought of.

On the last day we would spend with Mr. Hoobing, finals were done. Summer, high school, college and the rest of our lives were ahead of us. Summer was of interest to all – the rest of our lives, not so much. Mr. Hoobing made us an unusual offer on that last day of class, one that we would most likely forget all about.

The deal was this: “promise me that sometime in your life, you will visit one of those places you drew and I will raise your grade for the semester by one letter grade.”I remember every hand in the class instantaneously going into the air to take him up on that offer. What did we have to lose? How would he ever know if we did or did not go to Rome to see the Pantheon or Coliseum?

This week I made good on that promise, visiting Rome for a day, stopping to touch not one but several of those structures.

The drawings are long gone, lost in probably the fifth or sixth move I made after leaving home. But along the way, between then and now, the seed Mr. Hoobing planted 40+ years ago survived.

Walking down the cobbled streets of today’s Rome, it was as though I had been there before. The exact memories of life in ancient Rome were a bit fragmented but I felt very familiar with the area I had learned about so long ago.

Thank you Mr. Hoobing.

[Photo/Video- Chris Owen]