This summer I had to do an activity where we had to write a thank you to a mentor. I felt a little guilty since the people that shared in the group, thanked relatives. One was for a father and another guy thanked the kids he was mentoring. I thought of all the teachers that made a big difference or were an influence in my life. I was so lucky to have so many men and women from junior high and beyond. I wrote to Frank Underbrink since he’s been on my mind for quite a while-
Dear Mr. Underbrink,
I wanted to take the time to let you know how great it was to have you teaching at Libertyville High School. It was especially great knowing that you had been a graduate of the school and gone on to do so many things. The fact that you were the only guy in your French class and you went off to use it with your archeology studies was fantastic.
The time I saw you at the Goodman gave me an even greater love of Anton Chekhov. I now think of you every time I read or see Chekhov. Mom said she’d never seen me light up so much with excitement. You were sitting in the lobby during intermission, grading a stack of papers on a bench, I didn't even notice as I went to the ladies and it was mom who told me to take a closer look. I was studying theatre by then and you shared how much you loved Chekhov and had gone and purchased a ticket that night for The Cherry Orchard.
The way you managed a class like a college classroom and the fact that many known discipline problems were never a problem for you influenced me and how I deal with students today. Your sense of humor and your attitude toward boys growing up influenced me when I hit the classroom and taught all the young men I had in my audio courses at the numerous places I’ve been. I still see your face with a grin ear to ear when you would say “It must be spring, the freshman boys are fighting in the halls again!” I also think of the times you said the teacher’s lounge talk of was discipline problems and you would be surprised as these kids wouldn’t act up with you and as a teen ager I knew it was because you treated them like adults. I also can only imagine the sight when you would tell the story of the kid who was late for school and saw the dean waiting for him in the hall so he went outside and started crawling in through an open window in you classroom!
I miss you and I take away a sense of humor and a sense of adventure from you. We always joked you were the real Indiana Jones! Thanks again.