My favorite teacher got shot in the face and died

I remember Mr. Grunow was ALWAYS in a good mood.

Barry Grunow inspired me not only to write, but to think like a writer every day.

Middle school was one of the worst times of my life for many reasons, but it was also when I actively read and wrote constantly. I owe a lot of that motivation to Mr. Grunow.

He used to let me take on different personas, and he encouraged me to change my name on each assignment to match my persona of that day or week. English with Mr. Grunow quickly became my favorite class.

I moved back to my hometown, Lake Worth, Florida for four years before returning to Portland, Oregon the fall of 2009. When I was back in Lake Worth, I finally got my high school diploma at Lake Worth High School via the adult education program. Brett Packard was working as an assistant principle at the time, and we ran into each other. I knew Mr. Packard from Lake Worth Middle School, so I asked him about Mr. Grunow since I had only heard about his untimely death via national news. We shared stories about how Mr. Grunow affected our lives. I feel lucky that I ran into someone close to Mr. Grunow since I couldn’t talk directly to him for depressingly obvious reasons.

Mr. Grunow in action. He was murdered by seventh-grader Nathainel Brazill in 2000 at Lake Worth Middle School. I can’t imagine how a person could even been snippy toward Mr. Grunow. The man was a saint!

Now I’m a junior in college at Portland State University, and it took me forever to decide on a major. I studied criminal justice, namely juvenile corrections, for two years alongside journalism. I won awards for both, which made it difficult to settle on a career path. During this past summer, I thought of my favorite classes and my favorite teachers, and Mr. Grunow stood out the most–that’s when I decided I truly want to study English.

I wish I could thank him. I wish I could share my accomplishments with him. I wish he knew how much he inspired me.

Thanks to The Daily Post’s prompt entitled Teacher’s Pet for giving me the chance to briefly write about Mr. Grunow, the teacher who paved the way for me to become a writer.


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