Saturday, December 07, 2013


From the Houston Chronicle via a friend on facebook:

Man pushing disabled vehicle dies after getting hit by car

A man died Thursday night when another driver hit him as he was pushing his disabled car along a road in east Harris County.

Arlin Keith Gulley was killed in the incident, which occurred about 6 p.m. on Miller Road No. 2 at Miller Road No. 1, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

More here.

Arlin was there my first week teaching.  He was a sophomore in my public speaking class.  A sort of rebel and non-conformist, I liked and respected him immediately.  And he liked and respected me, coming back the next year to take my theater arts one class.  Of course, being a bit like James Dean when you're in high school isn't easy.  That first year his mother made me late for the Bauhaus concert because she kept me after open house, in tears, and at her wit's end about her son's behavior.  I wasn't sure what to say to her.  Arlin was always extraordinarily well behaved in my class.  I told her that she shouldn't worry about the long term: her son was obviously a good person, and highly intelligent, and he would do well with his life.

All that was over a decade ago, and, as teachers and students so often do, Arlin and I lost touch with each other after he graduated.  But I never forgot him.  We were kindred spirits, he and I, with a shared disdain for conventional norms, and a love for music and social criticism.  I am saddened tonight to hear about his passing.  The question I've asked myself everytime one of my students has died over the years, a question to which I will never have an answer, popped once again into my head: why do I get to live so much longer than these young people who have touched my life?  It isn't right.  The Arlin I remember was so full of life, and he made my life better for having known him.

This is why teaching is such dangerous work when you're doing it correctly.  While society freaks out about standardized tests, bad unions, and "failing schools," teachers, if they're any good at all, continue doing what they've always done, reaching out and forging relationships with the kids who pass through their classrooms year after year, and all relationships necessarily come with risk.  Of course, with risk comes reward.

I was privileged and honored to have taught Arlin Gulley.  I affected his life, for the better, I think, just as he affected mine.  He will not be forgotten.