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Teachers Can Change Your World

Ode to Dr. Cooper

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Opening up the world to a kid
Opening up the world to a kid

Dr. Robert Cooper was my high school history teacher.  He hosted a geography contest each year called The Bobby Bowl.  The contest was wildly popular and most competitive.

Much of the fun was studying for the Bowl with my dad. He and I would make up silly mnemonic devices to remember that Amman is the capital of Jordan (“Jordan is a man”).  Or that Lome is the capital of Togo (“loan me your toga”). 

Today, when the news mentions a country, I know where it is.  I most often know what it borders.  I’ll recall the seas surrounding it and the major rivers running through it.  

Dr. Cooper opened up the world to this Alabama kid who had never been on an airplane.  I have now traveled to 46 countries, each flagged on a magnetic wall map in my office.  There are still far too many places left unseen, and when my plane approaches, I’ll know the name of the mountain range below.  I have a post-pandemic bag packed and ready to go. 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of  men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.  –Mark Twain

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