Thursday, October 17, 2013

R.I.P Mr. T^2

On October 15, 2008 the #1 teacher of mathematics in the United States of America, in fact to ever live, took the journey to be at the side of God. 

Mr. Toby H. Tovar Jr. left his mark upon the world through his family and thousands of students.

Mr. Tovar only days ago came to mind when, while I was teaching to young children, The director of a learning center said to me, “Angel, if I didn't witness you in action, I wouldn't believe a person that can teach the way you do exists!”  The only thing that came to mind that moment was, “You obviously never met Mr. Tovar!”  If I could ever only be 1/20th as good a teacher as Mr. Tovar was that would my greatest accomplishment and I would feel set for life.

The last time I saw Mr. T^2 weeks before his passing he gave me a copy of a short autobiographical sketch he wrote which I include below.  Those who new him know that the lines that are slant on that paper are not due to his penmanship(he had the best penmanship of anyone I've ever known), but rather my cheap scanner which I couldn't get to scan that page correctly.

And now in Mr. Toby H. Tovar’s own handwriting his autobiographical sketch. R.I.P. Mr. T we miss you!

Mr. Tovar first came into my life when as a freshman at El Paso High school I wanted to enroll in an Algebra I class, but the counselor wouldn’t let me because, “Mexicans can’t do math.”  He went with me to the counselors office, told me to wait, shut the door behind me, and after some yelling I could hear through the door he walked out with my new schedule that included his honors probability and statistics course, and his honors algebra course.  He believed in anyone and everyone. If the need arose he could teach calculus to a chimpanzee or even a rock.  When Mr. Tovar walked into a room you knew it even if you weren’t looking. The room lit up and you could sense something special in the atmosphere—his presence was certainly felt.
When ever I would praise him he replied that he was nothing special; that he couldn’t do what he did alone because frequently he felt he lacked the strength, and every day when he rose at 4:00 a.m. the first thing he would do is say this prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
It was then and only then held by the hand of God that he could finally get up and do his will.

Shortly before his passing he said to me he had lived a long and wonderful sixty six years full of joy and packed with living. That he had no regrets and that he was ready for what God had in store for him next.  It was at that time that I first heard the following quote by Dr. Seuss.

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss

R.I.P. Mr. Dr. Toby H. Tovar Jr.

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