Greetings SideKickers,


Mr. Cabrera has been after me to write a few lines for the blog.  I must admit that this whole blog thing is new to me and I have been enjoying reading the entries made by Mr. Cabrera since he began to blog.  I’m always amazed at how easily Mr. Cabrera can sit in front of his computer and just began to type out volumes of sentences and paragraphs and words.


It seems that my focus is constantly being distracted by phone calls and students coming in to ask questions since I’m at the New Tampa location I did the majority of the teaching until recently, Mr. Alonzo has been a tremendous help in taking up part of the teaching responsibilities here at New Tampa.


In trying to figure what I might write about, it occurred to me that since April is teacher appreciation month, I should address this important subject.


It is no secret that I think teachers are the most underappreciated and underpaid professionals in our society today.  Through out history there are no examples of successful people who did not have the help of a teacher somewhere in their lives.  Each of us can name our favorite teacher from school, someone who had a profound effect on our lives.


In my case, there are two that come to mind.  The first, Mrs. Reicher, was my 10th grade English teacher.  Now let me say this, I grew up in a family of hard workers.  There were seven kids in my house and we all worked hard to help out the family.  My father was a carpenter by trade but could perform just about any job that he put his mind to.


While I don’t remember having an abundance of money, I don’t recall ever going hungry or without shoes.  My parents would do whatever was necessary to ensure we got what we needed.  In this environment college was not high on the priority list.  In fact, it wasn’t even on the list.  The mindset was to get through high school so you could get a job.


My escape was training in the martial arts.  Master Sparks instilled a strong work ethic and my training that has helped me tremendously throughout my life.  It was about that time that I encountered Mrs. Reicher.  I was somewhat burning the candle at both ends staying up late, training hard, getting up early to train before going to go to school to the point that by the time I arrived in Mrs. Reicher’s class I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open.


Needless to say, I was not making good grades.  I remember that not many of my teachers took a real interest in my progress, however, Mrs. Reicher made it her business to gently coach me to a better grade.  When report cards came out I had brought my grade up in her class.  Now when I say I brought my grade up most teachers would not have noticed.  Since I had been making “F’s” in her class, bringing that grade “up” to a D was certainly no big deal.


Mrs. Reicher went the extra mile and awarded me a certificate for “Most Improved Student”.  While this was just a piece of paper, the words on it became inscribed on my heart.  Mrs. Reicher, through her encouragement inspired me to do better.  While I did not become an “A” student, I continued to improve.  In fact, I began to take pride in the work I was doing in all my classes.  My other teachers noticed the change in me and began to encourage me in their classes as well.


The other teacher who had a profound effect on my life was a man named Arthur French.  Mr. French ran the educational television program in our school.  Our school was a bit ahead of its time in that we had our own closed circuit television station which produced many different programs throughout the school year.  The least of which was the morning announcements.


I was attracted to the idea of videography and found Mr. French to be a very talented teacher.  Mr. French was retired military, a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and had a way of handling kids who were sometimes too big for their britches.


While in his class I was going through some changes that he recognized and advised me to get back on track.  Mr. French was also my advocate when it came time to defend me to others.  I think he saw in me the potential to do more.  He was someone that I could turn to with the tough questions.  He did not treat me like a child, but as a young man.


When I left school and joined the military I came to appreciate what I had lost.  While stationed in Germany I enrolled in college classes and tried to further my education.  Unfortunately, time restraints prevented me from completing my college lessons.  As a result of this I have come to deeply appreciate the value of education.


As a father, my one unshakable, un-negotiable, unbending rule for my children was that they must finish college with at least a Bachelor’s Degree.  My wife and I were committed to supporting our sons in any way necessary to ensure they did very well in school.  All of that hard work paid off, both Ryan and Manny earned full academic scholarships to college.


I have been teaching martial arts now for more than 35 years and in that time I have been fortunate to have touched the lives of many students.  I have been honored to have met and interacted with many incredible teachers.  April is teacher appreciation month.  We all have much to be thankful  for.   Teachers are unique people.  They sacrifice much on behalf of their students both in time and finances.


Go out and do something nice for a teacher.


Master M. Cabrera

 Master Cabrera is a Seventh Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor of Sidekicks Family Martial Arts Centers.  He can be reached by phone at the New Tampa school by calling (813) 973-4634 or via e-mail at

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