Memories of Mr. Boyle
Dear Mrs. Boyle,
I am certain that over the past several days you have received countless phone calls wishing you well since your husband's passing. Rather than look to find a card that would try and comfort you and the other members of your family, I felt obligated to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings about your husband, my 9th grade teacher, Mr. Boyle.
Considering the hundreds, if not thousands of students he taught at Sousa, I doubt you would remember who I am. Our family owned a (very) popular business in town, Port Beer and Soda... most people knew my family because of this.
The home I grew up in was located on Bay Drive, right accross the street from the school. The importance of this was that each and every morning I had to walk past a small white Fiat. It was a special car drive by a special man.
In 8th grade I was placed (or tested) into algebra but was not part of the group that was in Mr. Girillo's class (another legendary teacher in Port Washington), struggled the entire year and actually failed the Regents exam. My parents requested that I continue on this track and take the exam again in 9th grade. Lucky for me, Mr. Boyle was my geometry teacher.
The days I spent in his class changed my life forever. So much so, my handwriting, to this day is modeled after his. I laugh and smile anytime I see anyone using a marker on an overhead projector, thinking how we all would wonder if Mr. Boyle could ever get his hand clean... it always seemed to be covered with marker ink.
He taught me how to take notes, how to have confidence before taking a test, how to study - really study, not just go through the motions, how writing and re-writing builds memory... the list is seemingly endless. I know that if you were to assemble a group of his students, many would repeat these same words to you.
In 9th grade I was also in a photography class (Mr. Caruso). I am certain that you knew of the importance he placed on our quarterly notebooks. One of my notebooks was full of photos of his car...  a few of my dog as well. I was proud when he asked to keep mine that quarter as it featured his beloved Fiat.
My year in his class ended on a high note, he helped me study (both after school and sometimes at lunch) for both the algebra and geometry Regents exams. I remember taking both the same day, one in the morning, the second in the afternoon. He personally informed me that I had done well on both... my memory is a bit blurry here but I recall scoring a grade in the high 80's on both exams.
The story does not end here as my younger sister Dyann was also his student... her story would be different, but the results of his influence on her would certainly resemble mine.
My wife and I are blessed with 2 girls (17 & 16) and 1 son (14). Each of them has heard, at one time or another, a story about Mr. Boyle... I was just telling my 16 year old a story this past Sunday... I don't remember the subject, but I am certain that it started with the phrase "I had a teacher who...".
My hope and quiet prayer, is that they too will have the chance to be influenced at school by someone like your husband, whose gift of teaching, regardless of the subject, will live on with them for the rest of their lives.
Once again, my condolences to you and all your family.
Lawrence Mazzeo
The Gift of Teaching
Sunday, June 22, 2008