Community Development / Education / Family / Relationships / Teachers / Uncategorized

Muncie Lost a Great One

Muncie Lost a Great One- By Aimee-Robertson Fant

The mark of a great teacher is this:

Beyond identifying and building upon children’s strengths and beefing up their weaknesses, beyond crafting effective lessons, possessing and executing certain universal skills teachers must have in a classroom, what separates the great teachers from the good ones is simply this:

When a child has grown up, does he or she ask:  “I wonder if Mr./Mrs.______ would be proud of me?”

Great teachers create visions. Great teachers are mirrors. Great teachers build real self-fulfilling prophecies.

Great teachers are people-molders. 

When I’ve accomplished an athletic goal or most any goal and exceeded expectations, when I have run a race and have been in agony but refused to quit, when I have stood at the front of my classroom after having given an *”inspiring” (probably only in my mind) speech that perhaps shares a little too much and lasts a little too long,  every once in a while I will ask myself:

“I wonder if Mr. Yohler is proud of me….”

Mr. Yohler said I was born to be a runner. “Running Robertson” he called me. So I ran.

He said I was going to be a great writer. So I wrote.

He said to never again wear that giant bow (that he said looked like a helicopter that had come to take me away) in my hair.  So I didn’t. (Ever again)

Mr. Yohler was my 5th/6th grade teacher and track coach.  Ever since I was 10-years old, he was the encouraging voice (or in some cases, the “What were you thinking?” voice) in the back of my mind and my brothers’ and sister’s minds (if I may speak on their behalf).

He just passed away; Quietly and without pomp and circumstance.

There are no services, per his wishes.  

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Mr. Yohler, the teacher, taught at North View Elementary school for many years, among other schools. He had all but one of my siblings. We all saw him as a super-human. Indestructible, in his perfectly-taylored bell-bottoms. He developed a mini-economy in his classroom in which we could create goods, sell/buy them and earn real money through our academic performance.  He was a Social Studies guru. He held competitive “horse-races” on paper (but with his commentator second-by-second narration). He was anti-drama, anti-whining, and pro-positive reinforcement (or as he called it: bribery).

He would never admit it, but he had a few tricks up his sleeve.  He was “magic”.

Pete Yohler, the man, was a dad, basketball fanatic, a coach, a spirits entrepreneur, and frequently poked fun at himself for having been married 5 times. The flaws and his self-deprecation were the very things that drew us in.

The only way I can honor and pay tribute to the teacher and the man, whose voice I can take with me where-ever I go, is to share with everyone who is reading this right now- those who were lucky enough to have known him and those who were not, that he was a people-molder, a mirror, a visionary, an encourager, but most importantly- he was a realist, and he didn’t let someone skate when he was disappointed in them.  Perhaps that is the greatest gift we can give to our children and students- letting them know they can do (and are capable) of doing better, of trying harder…. of being great.

And he was pretty great.

He will be terribly missed.

Thank you and goodbye, Mr. Yohler.  

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5 thoughts on “Muncie Lost a Great One

  1. I remember when Mr. Yohler said, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I remember saying computer science at the time. After everyone said what they wanted to be Yohler was surprised nobody said musician. “Petry, you could be a musician.” People laughed and Yohler said, “Don’t laugh musicians are some of the wealthiest people in this country.” Wealth means a lot of things and trust me, I feel very wealthy on many fronts. Thank you Mr. Pete Yohler.

  2. Pete Yohler was also the only teacher to pay his students for grades. We had a bank. A=10 A-=9 B+=8 credits and so forth. $1=400 credits. You could spend your credits on/with a business someone started, horse racing, candy, taxes, being sued by the class government, campaign finance, etc. Great practical life lessons. At the end of the year you could cash out and he would pay you cash money.

    • David, yes and yes. My siblings and I earned quite a bit of money in his classroom. A little competition and incentive for hard work never hurt anyone, and looking back, he must have really had to build a strong case in order to continue his economy in passing years….as competition in the classroom isn’t encouraged presently. Mr. Yohler would not like the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality of today. He was one in 5 Billion. (When he was my teacher- he frequently told my class that the world population was 5Bil) Sorry for the late reply and thanks so much for commenting. 🙂

      • Dear Anonymous. Did you know Pete Yohler?
        If there’s something you’d like to share please do.
        Otherwise, it seems you’re using a blog post thread dedicated to the memory of Mr. Yohler for some other purpose.
        I’m not sure who you’re addressing, but a space dedicated to the memory of someone who has passed away certainly isn’t the place to make veiled, ambiguous and threatening remarks.

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