May 7, 2019
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we reached out to the staff of PDK International to learn which teacher in their life inspired them the most. Throughout the rest of the week, we will be sharing their responses. Today, learn about the teacher who inspired PDK Chief Operating Officer Albert Chen to be a better person:
“Glenn Patchell, AP English, Irvine High School (IHS), 1987 made the difference for me by giving me an identity after living in my sister’s shadow for years. My older sister was valedictorian, would go on as top of her class in electrical engineering at MIT, MD from Johns Hopkins, Dermatology residence at Emory, fellow at Stanford, professor and Vice Chair of Dermatology and many more directorships at Emory today. Similarly my younger brother was chasing me and would also be valedictorian, top of his class at in EE at MIT, UCLA Computer Science, VP at Sapient, and CTO at Buildium.
But you see, I was barely top ten percent in my class and did not go to MIT for EE. At IHS, there was this award given every year to the best student in each course, so there would be a Heritage Medallion for the best in AP History and so forth. My sister had a number of them and my brother as the smartest of the kids, was already poised for a whole lot more. In Advanced Biology, my sister and I happened to be in the same class together; I had the highest scores in the class, and was sure I would get the Heritage Medallion, but it went to my sister because she was a senior and I was only a sophomore. Suffice to say, I was deep in her shadow. Mr. Patchell was my AP English teacher and he had been my sister’s as well. I remember doing well in his class, but always feeling that while I was better than average at a lot of things (not only in my family, but with all of my friends who were the 40 gifted kids ahead of me in the program) I was never the best at any one thing.
Then one day, I had a one-on-one with Mr. Patchell and he told me that I did not live in my sister’s shadow, that I was my own person, and that I stood out as my own person. As you might guess, Mr. Patchell gave me the Heritage Award Medallion in AP English that year, beating out 40 people with GPAs better than mine and I got the one medallion that my sister never did. I also got a 5 on the AP Test, my only one that year. Mr. Patchell did not just teach me to be a better writer, but he taught me to be a better person, and one that was not dependent on the comparison with others. He taught me that I was competing with myself and that I should strive for excellence – what every teacher should inspire in their students.
After so many years, I was afraid to reach out fearing the worst, but then last year, wanting to let his family know what a great man he was, I wrote to reach out to his son who had become a teacher after his father at IHS, and to my surprise, found that Mr. Patchell, my Mr. Patchell and not his son, was alive and well. I wrote him and told him what a difference he made in my life. He not only remembered me, but both my brother and my sister. He is 81 and just retired from UCI after having taught generations of teachers to be educators there. I would love to recognize him for his service and the impact he has made. I would love to honor him because without him, I would not be the person I am today.”