A great teacher can change your life. Besides all my music classes, one of my favorite classes in High School was Ecology with Mr. Chamberlain. Interlochen Arts Academy is tucked on a strip of land between two quiet lakes and surrounded by a state park and pine forest.

Three times each week we’d spend class tromping through the woods, identifying mushrooms and trees, insects and fish, and, my favorite, birds. I loved rowing the canoe to spot ducks, herons, and swans. Mr. Chamberlain led the class in total silence as we snuck peeks at hunting accipiters and spiraling woodcock.

Even in Royal Oak, I think back to that class nearly every week when I see a robin, a chickadee, or one of the peregrine falcons in town. I hope that the mark I leave on my friends and students might be as deep and beautiful.

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