Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Man Named Meester

Today I experienced the future that is definitely now. For some this is old hat, but it was new for me and I enjoyed it. I am talking about Skype, the software that allows you to make free video phone calls online with an internet connection, webcam, and microphone. For those who are interested, my skype ID is rwrapp. Now, the actual significance of this story is the history... going all the way back to 1995 and a man named Meester...

Back in 1995 I was a freshman at Horizon High School in Thornton, CO. There was a teacher there named Ray Meester who despite being a lovable old hippie-type, also happened to be quite a math teacher and technological prophet. He had the foresight in the early 90's to get technology grants to make Horizon one of Colorado's first fully networked high schools with broadband in every room and a full service internet and technology lab. Yes, I became one of the internet lab T.A.'s and built my first website using HTML in 1995.

However, I distinctly remember a conversation with Mr. Meester about the future of internet technology. He predicted that while computers would get smaller and more portable (think Mac Air), that cell phones would actually become more powerful and computer-like (think Blackberry). He also said that a time would come when he could be sitting in his canoe fishing in a mountain lake, connected wirelessly to the internet through a cell phone card in his laptop, making a video call to his math classroom to teach trigonometry while he fished. That would be Skype. He shared these thoughts with me 13 years ago in 1995!!!

Unfortunately, Mr. Meester died of cancer in November of 1997, and thus did not see these things come to pass. I mention this whole story simply because it is an amazing memory of someone who was a good friend, great teacher, and wise in many ways. This world can always use more teachers like Mr. Meester.


jrr said...

Ray Meester was quite a teacher and quite a man. Very interesting but not surprising that he had such foresight. He was a bit unorthodox and definitely a hippie-type, but had a way of teaching math such that students who had problems learning from other teachers, could learn from him. The world can always use gifted teachers like him.

Mary said...

Ray Meester was one of a kind, and we definitely need more teachers like him. I was one of his students back in the 70's. What a magnificent mind!!! I have recently finished my degree in mathematics with a minor in education in large part due to Meester!!

I was continually amazed during my education that they were teaching concepts and teaching methodologies that were "new" and were the best way to teach math to students so that they understood... Except I knew better these methods were not new . . .maybe to some, but I was taught by the Master - Meester using their new methods!!! I wonder if he is simply smiling down on us saying “You finally caught up!"

I wish he were still here to talk with and learn from, he is greatly missed! I hope I can be 1/2 the teacher he was!!

Don Beil said...

What a treat to be directed to a blog referencing Gary Meester. Those who knew him in 'recent' years will think I've gotten the first name wrong, but when I went into the Peace Corps in 1964 those of us in the same group with him (the second group to go to Somalia, East Africa) knew him as Gary. But what's in a name -- plenty I guess, for most of us took great pleasure in calling him "Mister Meester" -- just as your posts do today. There was something about the way it came from our tongues through our teeth and across our lips that gave us great pleasure in repeating it.

There's more ... Gary took a Somali name and took great pleasure in introducing himself to Somalis by that name. (Hopefully a Somali 2 who reads this will remember what name he took and post it. Mohammed and Ahmed just don't sound right. Was it Jama? What was it?)

Barbara, if you see this, thanks for sending the URL.

The other two posts before mine, and the original post, all capture the gent we knew and loved. Perhaps he was one of the first what-you-see-is-what-you-get people that I'd ever met. There was nothing hidden, what you saw was indeed what you got. And what you got was really something!

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to recall Gary -- you've given me a great deal of pleasure.

Don Beil

Steve said...

Oh the memories. I grew up with Meester (we always just called him by his last name) practically as my father. He was an extraordinary individual - one of a kind, and unlike just about any teacher (or person) you were likely to meet. He was open and honest and cared about doing what was right, not what was considered politically correct.

I truly miss him. He was a friend and mentor that can never be replaced. I'm very glad to have stumbled on a post remembering him and his wonderful contribution to our world.

Here's to Meester, we'll remember you always.

SavyArt said...

I know this was posted about a year ago, but I thought I would chime in. I graduated in '93, and Meester was my favorite teacher from the moment I met him. He came to Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and was so dear to me.

Even though he was a math teacher, he was the only teacher who ever made me feel it was ok to be an artist - and considering the "warring" schools of thought on that witnessed by your usual math professors, this is really saying something.

That he really was a tech-wiz, even with his wild pants and wire rimmed glasses, was always a lot of fun too when he would start in with his predictions. And you're right, he's been on the mark all the way.