it’s Teacher Appreciation Week

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. While I have acted as a teacher many times in my life, I didn’t really embrace it as something I do until a couple years ago when I started teaching at the dojo and when I started the afterschool karate programs that I do twice a week.

Teaching is a wonderful thing, and something I delight in. It is very satisfying to see someone thrive and learn things under your tutelage.

I also am incredibly grateful to all the wonderful teachers I’ve had over the years, from Tina Roach and Marie Captain at the (now defunct) New Rochelle Academy, the Montessori school I attended from first to fifth grade, to Father Shelley and Bernie O’Toole at Cardinal Spellman High School, to Joanne Dobson and Connie Hallett and Mike Macovski at Fordham University — not to mention my parents, Robert DeCandido and GraceAnne Andreassi DeCandido, both superb teachers (my father continues to teach even in retirement, and I’ve guest-lectured his class several times). For a few years, my parents co-taught a class on preservation at St. John’s library school, which was a joy to observe.

I have to say, though, that the teacher who has had the most profound impact on me as a teacher has to be Shihan Paul, my karate instructor, who is quite simply one of the finest teachers I have ever seen. He is a brilliant communicator, a great motivator, and is amazingly good and conveying information to adults and kids alike.

In addition, I must also give thanks and praise to many of the black belts in our dojo, who have had a profound influence on my teaching style, though they, too, owe a lot to Shihan. They include Sensei Gustavo and Senpais Cliff, Charles, Dago, Jorge, Dorian, Joel, and Michael. For that matter, there’s a teacher I never met, Shuseki Shihan William Oliver, who taught my Shihan, and who also taught several others who influenced me, among them Kyoshis Jennifer and Matthew.

To all the teachers out there, thank you. To all my students over the years, thank you.

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