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Teaching Legend

June 26, 2020

Early on in my professional career, I prepared several tax returns for friends and family.  However, over the years as my career has developed, I have done less and less.  The time required is just too great, so now it’s become where you are an actual client or I can’t help.  That does not apply to immediate family and occasionally “select” people.  Basically, you must be special to get on the list.  One of those “special people” is Bob Scharer.

Mr. Scharer was my sixth-grade teacher and makes my list of top influential teachers that I had in my lifetime.  Probably the greatest thing that he did for us as a group was treat us more like adults than children.  A large part of the year was spent having real-life conversations.  It was one of the first times I recall having real, authentic conversations about real life in school.  I am sure that my memory might have changed this next comment, however I remember a conversation about choosing a career path and the start of it was the thought of just following our parents.  I am most likely paraphrasing here- he looked at me and asked something like “Do you really want to spend 40 years installing hardwood floors?  Think about the wear and tear on your body, your back.”  For some reason that has stuck with me all of these years.  Probably because of the mix of wisdom and because later on in my life, my Dad would never have allowed me to take over his business.  That was not the path he wanted for me.

One of the coolest things he would do was at the end of the year, he would draw caricatures of each student and provide a word or words that would describe them.  These were done as posters, so they were large.  The drawings were super awesome, and the words were typically spot on.  My word was “dependable”.  I can only imagine the time and effort he spent on those.  The distribution of those was a fun day.  I recall the hanging Twinkie in his room – to basically show that they will last forever, so you might want to think twice about eating them.  Or how about the impact that Coke has on a nail and other items.  Again, you might want to think about putting that in your body – no matter how good it is!  I remember the Phantom Tollboth, square dancing and the circuit of events.  He also ran the intramural sports– football and floor hockey.  They were a blast, open to 5th and 6th graders.  I recall when I was in 5th grade being on the team that could beat everyone, except that one 6th grade team, then becoming that team in the 6th grade.  For our class picture, he put it to a vote, but got us all to commit to making the picture special and for us all to dress up, ties even for the boys – not to just wear some old ratty t-shirt.  It turned out pretty good.

6th Grade

I was sort of sandwiched in age between his children, so he was around during my high school years as well, through school events and sports.  When I was a senior, I remember having the opportunity to go to Stillwater Elementary and speak to his classroom through the DARE program.  I believe it was myself, Wes Pierce, Billy Ojeda and think Blake Holtom with me.  We got to answer questions and sort of parade around like we were big shots.  It was fun for me to go full circle, to be back in his sixth grade classroom as a senior – granted it was at Stillwater and not Cherry Valley.  Stillwater opened after I left elementary school.  Mr. Scharer had spent most of his career at Cherry Valley but transferred to Stillwater and then also became a PE specialist.  He spent 40 years working in the Riverview School District, impacting lives.  I know from others that I am not in the minority by saying that he was one of the best teachers in the district.

When he retired from teaching, there was a celebration at Stillwater Elementary in his honor.  Since my mom was the Secretary at Stillwater, she filled me in on the details and I was able to attend.  Towards the end, they basically had an open mic for anyone to come up and talk.  At the time, I was going through chemotherapy.  I remember thinking that I should talk about his impact on me, however I felt like such an emotional wreck at that time, I didn’t want to stand up and turn into an emotional wreck.  So I didn’t talk, as I just didn’t have the desire to go there…  Since then, I think a part of me has always felt that I have owed him this blog.  It may be a little late, but here it is.  Typically when we have met to go over his tax return, he asks if I am still enjoying writing, the answer is yes and now you get to read one of my blogs about you!

Yes, he was a fantastic teacher, who touched the lives of hundreds of kids in the lower Snoqualmie Valley, however that is not all that makes him who he is.  When my Dad died, I was in college in Oregon, then after graduation, I was then in the process of starting my career and sort of own life on my own.  My sister was in the same boat as well – working at her first job, we were both in the process of “leaving the nest”.  I would check in with my mom and see how she was doing.  His name would always come up as someone at work who would be checking in with her to make sure she was doing OK.  That was always a big deal to me.  After he retired, he has gone on to be a caregiver for his wife Debra.  I think his impacts as a teacher only tell part of the story of the quality of his heart. As a role model and example of a person to be like, it doesn’t get much better than Bob Scharer.  I know I feel lucky to have been influenced by such a wonderful person.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sally Sanden permalink
    June 26, 2020 8:36 pm

    Another great blog David. As a long time staff member of RSD & recent retiree from 30 years at Cherry Valley, (I started there when you were in that 6th grade class!) I can say… It’s never too late to let a teacher know how you felt about them. We all know what a great teacher Bob Schaer was and even after 40 years, a teacher still loves to hear that their life’s work truly made a difference. I know I feel that way and no doubt that your Mom does too. Thanks for sharing because it is cool for Bob to hear it & the rest of us love it too!!

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