Looking Back: Mr. Matney

I participate in an online program called the Daily Challenge. It presents something for its members to do of a health-promoting nature–often physical, but sometimes mental and emotional. Participants receive points and work their way up the ladder to higher and higher rungs. I can’t say that I always find DC to be beneficial, but I’ve made friends with some of the people who exchange comments with me.

Today’s Challenge–I’m writing this three days before you see it–was special. To share one’s favorite class or school subject from way back whenever and list three reasons it was so special.

At first I was stymied, as I often am by that type of Daily Challenge, but once I thought about it, I had to mention two classes rather than one.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Government class in high school; I guess they call that Civics now. My teacher was a wiry little fellow named Keith Matney. (It seems strange that I would have even known his first name.) That man was energetic, and that was good. He could keep me awake even while other kids were dozing. I’ll never forget an impromptu speech he gave about the fact that nobody is free unless everyone is.

I don’t recall the details, but that made me want to become a teacher. A teacher of Government at that.

When I transferred from junior college to senior college, still firm in my conviction that I wanted to follow in Mr. Matney’s footsteps, I took a class called The American Political Party System. We were required to attend a particular political rally–1966 was an election year–and that was my initial introduction to the realities of American politics.

Forget teaching Government. Especially if it meant taking more classes like that one. I’d been naive enough to think that majoring in Political Science was all about the kinds of things I’d studied in Mr. Matney’s class.

Nonetheless, I didn’t lose my desire to teach. Since I’d accumulated more English credits than anything else in junior college, I changed my major to English.

Once I started teaching, I learned that the one thing my education classes had failed to to teach me was how to teach. I’m greatly relieved to hear periodically from former students on Facebook who remember my classes as beneficial.

But I was no Keith Matney, and I changed careers shortly after the beginning of my seventh year.

I have to admit I never totally lost my interest in teaching, though. I taught a computer programming class once at a Black and Decker plant in Easton, MD. I taught guitar off and on part-time for a number of years. I did a little bit of Sunday School teaching. I gave technical presentations at nationwide computer user conferences and even taught a full-day class once in Australia.

Even now I’m tutoring/mentoring a writer friend on a regular basis.

Maybe I do have at least a little of Keith Matney in me after all.

What about you? What was your favorite subject in school? How about leaving a comment?


I’ll be back again on Wednesday with a post about my other favorite high school teacher. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
Best regards,


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