Bitt Bonus

Richard Bittinger was my twelfth grade English Literature teacher. I’d like for it to be known that I never really truly liked any of my English teachers (except like 2). There were certainly teachers who helped me along the way, but none made such a pure and meaningful impact on me than Mr. Bitt. Not only was he there to make sure I didn’t fail his class, he also helped me actually get into college. During our “college” unit, we each wrote personal essays. In my essay I finally unveiled to him that my dad has cancer. He was the first teacher I told, and he was the one who helped me the most. There were some days when I came into school and I definitely did not want to be there. No matter how I felt that day, going to Mr. Bitt’s class was what I looked forward to the most. Even better yet, I also had him for study hall most days. Mr. Bitt is an understanding, kind and compassionate teacher.

Although teaching has been very rewarding for him, it doesn’t take over his life. He also has a blossoming lawn care business on the side, but he has never seen himself doing anything else besides teaching, and I hope that those lenses rub off on me. Despite there being a dark side to the American education system, there is always a bright side. Mr. Bitt says that “working with the kids is the best - no doubt. Students who come back make it worth it. Every teacher loves the students. No matter what it is, getting to know the students is the most rewarding. They are one of the reasons you put up with all the other the crap. The enthusiasm that they have when they finally get it; or when you see a kid being a [butt]hole in the beginning, but they start warming up and being nice, is rewarding. That’s the stuff that’s nice. Their progress is what makes it worth it.”

High school was a tough thing to do and as a senior, it was even more difficult knowing we were so close to finally getting our independence, yet I always am going to feel a connection to the dumb pink lockers and weird marbled and tiled halls of Hershey High School. Sitting in one of the cold and hard seats of room 117 after I graduated gave me flashbacks of the all the naps, laughs, arguments, and conversations that I had not too long ago. To be back was a rewarding experience on its own. It was there inside those concrete walls that I truly realized how lucky I was to have gone to such a good high school and to have had such amazing teachers who cared about me and my education. They helped put me through to my future. But the one who helped me to most to stay sane during a very difficult time, was Mr. Bitt. He helped me in more words than I can ever express. Not just because he didn’t fail me, or because I proved him wrong when I got a 4 on the AP test when he predicted I’d get a 2, but because he cared about my learning, and he cared about my existence. Mr. Bitt was very helpful to me and we had lots of good talks throughout the school year. I look forward to the day when I can go back and say, ‘I know how hard it was for you to deal with idiots like me every day, but I am glad you did it, because I am living that experience now in my classroom.” That day will come soon enough, and I know he will help me celebrate the day I become a teacher by saying, “it’s all over baby.”

I highlighted him in this article to show that one person is enough to make a difference in your life. Whether it is a teacher, a friend, a coach or your family, there are people constantly around you in your life and those people can make a difference unknowingly or not. Bittman was not the only teacher who impacted my life. He helped me to reinforce the feelings I had about wanting to be a teacher, and also supporting me during a hard time in my life. I think that it is always very important to acknowledge the people around you who are important and make you feel secure and successful. I felt much more secure in high school than I do in college. That feeling may go away or it may not. All I know is that I am an important person surrounded by supportive people. You are too.