What a surprise to read the feature article “Home Base” in the March/April issue. I have been an elementary teacher at Patch Barracks for many years and can relate to much of what Mr. Toner wrote. His favorite teacher, Mr. Hanks, was a friend of mine, and he is truly missed. I have shared this article with my colleagues, and I hope that Mr. Hanks’ widow has also read the article.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw the cover of your magazine today. It caught my attention because I, too, lived in Germany in the early ’80s and attended Patch High. In fact, I thought to myself that the drawing on the front looked a lot like Mr. Hanks. Imagine my surprise when I read the story. Mr. Hanks taught a class that I really wanted to take, but it was always booked solid, so I couldn’t get in. It was called “Bits and Pieces,” and the entire focus of the class was dissecting various critters. Very cool stuff. The subtlety of Mr. Toner’s reference to the term “bits and pieces” was not lost on me, nor will it be lost on other alums of Patch High.
It saddens me deeply to learn of Mr. Hanks’ tragic passing. He is the kind of teacher that I aspire to be like. It is interesting that he has influenced my life and I never even made it onto his rolls. What power the man wielded. I hope he knew it.
Belle Point Alternative School
Forth Smith, Arkansas
An army brat myself, my eye was drawn to the article about another army brat when I opened the March/April issue of Teacher Magazine. Imagine my surprise when I actually turned to page 30 and saw that it was written about Patch High. Being a little older than Mr. Toner, I graduated from Stuttgart High School in Ludwigsburg in 1958. Like Mr. Toner, I recall those years and the teachers I had with great fondness.
Going to school in Stuttgart was a great experience. Even though he and I are separated by years and the schools were in different parts of Stuttgart, I enjoyed his article about the teachers who remain with you all your life. I remember my English teacher at Stuttgart who was a frustrated Shakespearean actor. When we read Shakespeare’s plays, she made them so real, I enjoy them to this day.
Mr. Toner should send his article to the Army Brats Web site, where it can be shared with brats all over. Thanks for sharing the memories.
Yorktown Heights, New York
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A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2005 edition of Teacher as Collective Memory