A few days ago, I did something that took me outside of my comfort zone. For the first time in over two years (aka pre-Covid), I attended a LARGE event. I still wore a mask, and I admittedly was still anxious, but there are some once in a life time opportunities that are worth getting out of your comfort zone to do. For me, that opportunity was the chance to meet William Daniels or as many in my generation know him: Mr. Feeny.
I had seen the advertisements for Mr. Daniels’ appearance at the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention several months ago. Admittedly, I was excited about his appearance from the start. However, numbers were surging with the discovery of Omicron, and there were a lot of factors that seemed very uncertain. Since that time, most everywhere has relaxed Covid guidelines with even the CDC making new recommendations about masks, social distancing, gatherings, etc. Because of this (yes, I’m one of those people who trusts real professionals and not graduates of Google University) I was already becoming more comfortable with starting to do more “normal” activities. Then last Saturday, I saw someone posting about the convention, and I remembered Mr. Daniels’ appearance. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to go, and I went.
As a kid growing up, I watched Boy Meets World and viewed Mr. Feeny through eyes similar to those of Cory, Shawn, and Topanga. I thought he was kind of uptight, but that he had good lessons to teach. As a bonus, he was always there to help them even when they did things that he didn’t think were good choices. No matter what happened, you always knew Mr. Feeny cared about his students. I always liked that kind of teacher. Fast forward, now I am a teacher, and there have been two fictional teachers that I have always sought to be like: Professor John Keating (Dead Poets Society) and Mr. George Feeny.
Both of these characters were EXCEPTIONAL educators. They knew their subject matter more than many of their contemporaries (yes, I know all of the knowledge was in the script). More importantly, they cared about their students. Keating and Feeny taught their students life lessons. They found ways to teach lessons that their students needed to know beyond the classroom in a variety of aspects of life. They were friendly while also establishing clear boundaries. These are the teachers (along with real life teachers like LouAnne Johnson and Jaime Escalante) that many of us have inspired to be like ever since we decided to go into education.
Knowing all of that, I wanted to meet William Daniels. On one level, I wanted to meet him just because I think it is cool to meet celebrities. Yes, I’ve been known to totally FAN GIRL! Along with that, I also wanted to tell him thank you. As we completed our photo op, that’s exactly what I did. I told him, “Thank you for the character of Mr. Feeny. I’m a teacher, and a lot of us look up to him.” Just getting to do that, and seeing him smile at my words, made the whole outing worth it even in these (hopefully) final stages of the pandemic.
I wanted to write all this on Sunday, but I waited until today for a reason. Today is William Daniels’ 95th birthday. So I would love you for to join me in wishing him a happy birthday! From all of those whom you’ve impacted, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Feeny!”
The Great Kaysby