Next: Mr. Amble's Retirement Party (15-Jun-2001) Part 2Mr. Amble's Retirement Party (15-Jun-2001) Part 1

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"Happy Retirement! Mr Amble - We Will Miss You - We Love You!"
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Student at left, Buzz Amble, student in background in front of door, student in light blue shirt, student at right.
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Buzz Amble surrounded by students.
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A very large chocolate layer cake.
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(Friday 15-Jun-2001)


Mr. Amble,

To be honest, when I remember my fifth grade year a quarter of a century ago (doesn't that make you feel old), I don't really remember much that has to do with academics.

I remember that nothing I experienced in thirteen years of public school was more fun.

I was kind of a loner and you let me get away with sitting in a corner of the room surrounded by bookshelves. I must have seemed like a really weird kid, but you treated me like the most special kid in the room. I'm sure every kid would have said the same thing. Well, maybe not Bill Rivea (spelling?). I remember he ended up in Zoo 15 because Mr. Jacober almost killed him. We were coming back from recess one day and he came flying out of Mr. Jacober's room, still sitting in his desk. Next thing, he was a member of our class. Soon he tested your good humor as well. Remember, he lived with the delusion that he had inherited Harry Houdini's escape artistry. He went by "The Great Zucchini." First, he chained himself to one of the tetherball poles and couldn't get out because his nose was too big. Then he handcuffed himself to his desk and you had to stay after school for several hours until his sister showed up with the keys. Even though we saw your temper when Bill did his thing, you still treated kids like Bill as special.

Did I say how much fun your class was? My kids still don't believe my fifth grade teacher used to have a pinball machine in the classroom, that he played Beatles and Wings records while we did our school work, and that he said things like "Farm Out" and "Yucca Dew" ("what's 'Yucca Dew,' Dad?"). I tell them about how we used drive around after school collecting papers in a green army truck. We would ride in the back on top of bundles of papers stacked dangerously high, five feet higher the sides of the truck bed. I'm so glad we could do that in the days before lawsuits ended such fun. The trip to the zoo at the end of the year wasn't nearly as fun as all the work we did to get there.

Academically, the only think I remember was that when Columbus arrived in the new world the banks were closed because it was Columbus Day and that Sacagawea showed him the Louisiana purchase. That was because you used to give us clues during our note tests: "Hey, David, is that a sack o' Gawea you got for lunch there?" Just kidding about Sacagawea, I know she is really the one who saved John Smith's life as seen in the Disney movie.

Before, I was in your class I really didn't believe I had any kind of future academically or otherwise. But you changed that. You forced me to do that Toastmasters thing. Honestly, I don't think I did very well, but you acted like I did and I went on to make my living as a public speaker. Now I write and deliver a new persuasive or "how to" speech every week (in my profession, they call them "sermons," though I hate that word). I even use the impromptu skills by letting little kids bring a mystery object to church every week so I can make a children's message based on it.

Everything I needed to know for ministry, I learned in fifth grade, especially the part about loving each person and treating everyone as special, especially kids. The favorite part of my work has been leading and teaching junior high and high school kids. At first, I honestly had a hard time loving the athletic and cheerleader type kids. I remember how much the comments used to hurt (Yeah Greg, I'm with Steve, I forgive you too). But then I remembered you and the way you treated us all the same, like we were the most important kid in your world. The confidence you gave me (Jesus had a lot to do with it too, but you were a human example and inspiration for me to follow, Jesus with skin on for me), gave me confidence to love all the kids in my youth group. And nothing has been more worthwhile in my work than loving kids and watching them blossom: awkward kids, like me and Bill along with the beautiful and naturally gifted kids like Greg Teregis and Sonya Hansen. We all need love and we are blessed when a Buzz Amble draws us out of ourselves and helps us to believe that we are worthwhile.

A couple of years ago, I returned from Denver to Michigan to watch some of my youth group members graduate from high school. After the graduation I was swamped with hugs from a hundred kids. Some of them I hardly knew, but I was greeted like a hero come home, by some for doing no more than saying a kind work or offering a smile when I'd visit their school. I never felt more rewarded than I did at that graduation. I felt like Mr. Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus. My church youth group kids are your grandkids in a sense, and I hope that you always feel as special as I did that day because you made a difference in the lives of hundreds of kids like me. Thank you! I love you! You are a true hero! God bless you on your retirement!

With Warmest Memories,

Roburpo

Bert Jara (Roberto Jara)
Wyoming MI
(5th Grade, 1973-1974)

Next: Mr. Amble's Retirement Party (15-Jun-2001) Part 2