With the end of this month being Teacher Appreciation Week, like Master Cabrera, I wanted to talk a little bit about the teachers that had a positive impact in my life.  I’ve always felt teachers have one of the most important jobs because what they are teaching kids today is what they’re going to use to shape our world in the future.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to experience many teachers both in academics, martial arts, and in other areas.  I want to talk about a few of the wonderful educators I’ve had the opportunity to learn from.

 My fourth grade teacher was Sherri Shaner, at Chaires Elementary in Tallahassee, FL.  It’s been many years since I’ve been in her class, however, I remember much more about the activities we did in her class than I do in just about any other before or since. The main reason, in my opinion, she had such a memorable impact on me was because she always had an unwaivering commitment to do whatever it took to help her students learn and excel.  We did a project one time on the weather that I enjoyed so much that to this day I know more about clouds and weather patterns than most people do.  She really helped me to further ignite a passion for learning that was instilled in me by my parents at an early age.  Once I moved up into higher grades, even in high school, I would still go and visit her classroom.  My mother-in-law, who’s a teacher in the Leon County School System and used to teach at Chaires told me the other day that Mrs. Shaner had retired.  I hope she is doing well in whatever she is doing now.

In high school, Mrs. Cabrera and I attended a magnet program call International Baccalaureate (IB).  The IB programme offers a high quality internationally accredited education to students.  For those of you who are teens, it’s considered a step above Advanced Placement (AP).  It was a wonderful opportunity and opened a lot of doors for me and I will always be grateful for the experience.  My 10th grade year we took European History with Mrs. Melinda Hilsenbeck.  What an amazing class!  She was such a good teacher and like Mrs. Shaner, went the extra mile for her students.  I remember attending 2-hour long study sessions after class to prepare for an AP exam.  The connections that she made and the way she showed us how you can follow history back and find out the root causes of things that are happening today was just awesome.  Mrs. Cabrera and I joke that when we were in college we would refer back to our notes from her class because of how thorough her class was.

When I was in the 11th grade, my parents sold their martial arts school and Tallahassee and the family moved here to the Tampa Bay area.  We made this move over the winter break and I started at a new high school mid-way through the school year.  That’s when I met probably the best English Literature teacher in the whole world in the form of Magnolia Allen.  She had a way about her that made you want to read literature classics and even do the work that was involved with them.  In fact, over the year’s she’s inspired such loyalty that there is a Group on Facebook dedicated to her and what an amazing teacher she is.  Because of her, when I got to college, I had no doubts that I wanted to get a degree in English.   I just wish the classes I took in college were as full or engaging as her class was.

Of course, I can’t get out of here today without talking about my martial arts instructors.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and train with the best martial artists in the world.  Leaders in competition, business, and taekwon-do.  I have to say that the best teachers I’ve ever had were Master Cabrera and my mom, Amber Cabrera.  Every aspect of our program from how we greet people and our teaching methods are all things that I learned from my parents.  I count myself as incredibly blessed to not just have had them as my instructors but as my parents too.  Master Cabrera was one of the pioneers in helping martial arts instructors become more professional and develop themselves into a more service oriented program.  My mom, like me, has a little bit of a streak that makes her almost obsessive about training and details.  When she used to walk in to teach class a lot of the guys would start to hang their head because they new that at the end of class they were going to be crawling out of there from all the hard work.  This was at a time when female instructors weren’t as widespread as they are now.  They taught me how to teach and continue to help us shape the instructor training program here at SIDEKICKS.


Mr. Cabrera

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