Losing an inspirational, challenging teacher

By Matt Donato
November 4, 2005

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting a person so demonically cruel and bitterly honest that it made you cringe? Maybe.

Have you ever been influenced by a teacher that inspired you so much that you were enthralled through the entire class? Yeah, maybe in a dream, but why would you dream about going to class anyway? Imagine not having to wipe the drool stains off your shirt after class.

Fathom true comic genius from a teacher instead of laughing at another’s dry-cracked humor. English class was once fun, fellow Cabrinians; we actually learned a thing or two. This enigma that we speak of is a man that goes by the names of Harold William Halbert, Dr. Halbert or for those select few, just Hal

The first time that we both met Hal was during our freshman year. He was our teacher for college success as well as our adviser. Hal made the transition from high school to college much smoother.

Being the genius he was, Hal would relate present situations that occur with his own life experiences and this just made our class feel a lot more comfortable knowing that these things are not new. His stories were always hysterical, and yet they always conveyed his message perfectly. We all knew exactly what he was trying to say. He ameliorated all new and scary endeavors that came before us and made everything seem like it was going to be all right.

We might have had a rough school night here and there, but it’ll all made us a stronger person in the end. We know that this is what all college success teachers are supposed to portray to students, but Hal made freshman year an unforgettable experience.

We know that a lot of students here at our little community of Cabrini don’t really care for Hal. I guess we can understand where this controversy comes from. Maybe his hijinks in class may have offended you, especially girls. Maybe his use of language and his bluntness was too much for you. Grow up. That’s life, teachers curse and will get heated up. Let it be known that some teachers may sugarcoat certain assignments and classes. Hal did not do this and we’re thankful. Let us tell you that when you get out of Cabrini, sugarcoating is just a dream and a flavor, not a gift. Students who have studied under Dr. Halbert know this and will be more prepared for classes that end up more difficult than his.

The workload in his classes consisted of massive reading amounts with each reading a note card that held a summary of the information we obtained in the individual readings. This would go all semester long with other miscellaneous assignments that he would give out on a whim. The ultimate low and behold assignment that would make or break your grade is the 10 page paper due at the end of the semester. Being the pseudo-intelligent students we think we are, it seemed like a decent idea to take on difficult topics. As we usually procrastinate, three days left of the semester we decided to finish our paper. Filled with panic, multiple emails were sent to Hal regarding the paper. Fear not, Hal did tell us he received between 60 to 80 emails a day. Incredibly, he got back to us within minutes of each. Unbelievable gratefulness filled us, for this paper would be worth approximately 200 points and he took grading them very seriously.

Maybe the most unique quality about Dr. Halbert’s teaching style is that he allowed us students to run the class. Now, by “run” we don’t mean stand in front and dictate. No, we mean the students were to decide collectively where to start and what might strike a good class discussion. Never before in any other class has a teacher done that.

It would be interesting to see Hal’s lesson plan for we’re sure it’d be very customized to student participation. In addition, Hal’s classes are all very close-knit in which class participation was extremely suggested. Hal can always tell when a student is not as strong in certain areas as others and he does not exploit anyone’s weaknesses as maybe another teacher would.

When we both found out that Hal had left we were both shocked and appalled. He was one of the few teachers that we actually wanted to see and catch up on things with.

Hal was one of the teachers who we actually had a relationship with outside of the classroom and we both thank him for that. Nobody can escape the omnipresence of Dr. Halbert.

Posted to the web by Brandon Edwards

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Matt Donato

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