In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to share how one of my teachers made a life impact twice in two different areas – decades apart! Mr. Ferrill Gunter, High School Algebra 2 teacher, was an amazing mathematics instructor. A common belief is High School Algebra 1 is a difficult course, but any student who pays attention in class and does the homework will succeed in that course. Whereas, Algebra 2 is an extremely difficult course and only a few “smart” students will succeed!

Most every student succeeded in Mr. Gunter’s Algebra 2 class, because he engaged students in a way where everyone was locked into his clear explanations of complex math concepts. He had a way of getting down into the students’ world and relating to them. One example was his attempt to “show us” the definition of INFINITY! It was a sweltering day and since our school was not air conditioned, all the windows were open. The classroom had chalkboards on three walls with windows on the fourth wall.

Mr. Gunter picked up a piece of chalk, held it up so every student was staring at it, and said “infinity” is like this piece of chalk. Then he started drawing a straight line across a chalk board. At the end of the chalk board he continued the line across the second chalkboard on the second wall and then across the third wall to the open window. Stopping at the window, Mr. Gunter threw the chalk as hard as he could out the window. He said let’s assume the chalk does not fall to the ground but continues in motion until it leaves the earth and travels throughout the universe forever. THAT is Infinity!

Now the time is decades after High School graduation and being a close class, we have held a Reunion every five years. We had many reunions and usually have entertainment or classmates share life experiences after a dinner. At the last Reunion we invited Mr. Gunter to be our speaker. We expected him to recall the many classroom experiences that he has had, but we were in for a surprise! He said he was raising cattle on his farm and writing poetry. He wanted to share a poem with us that he had composed, “We Are Not All the Same”. It was a very moving time and there were many requests for copies. Two stanzas are posted with this article. The full poem was posted on the Reunion Facebook page. Normally the Reunion Facebook page has 100 views and 50 Likes after each reunion, but after Mr. Gunter’s poem was posted, our page received 500 views and 250 Likes! That is a 500% increase!

Thank you, Mr. Ferrill Gunter, Algebra 2 Teacher and Poet, for reminding us that we should not judge people and put a label on them.


Have you had any “Mr. Gunter’s” in your life? A teacher that has surprising hobbies or second careers outside of teaching. Please share with us by replying below.