Barron had high standards as a teacher
On Aug. 26, a friend and great teacher passed away. In a lifetime, it is rare to encounter an individual of such devotion.
George Barron was one of those rare icons one encounters on life’s path. He started teaching chemistry at Jamestown High School during the late 1950s, and chemistry was his passion. I was a student at that time and observed him at a distance. Our first impression of George was high standards and unflinching expectations. As students we wondered what orbit he had been navigating - even though at that time there existed a small nucleus of teacher who had high standards, like Gertrude Mickelson and Glyndon White. George was unwavering in his devotion and demands for excellence, however, he paid a heavy tax for the high quality of his expectations. Many a parent and administrator subjected him to enormous pressure and stress to reduce his expectations.
George always knew, if one was going to produce a quality product, one had to have high standards. We learn on life’s journey that if one expects little from our children, we will never be disappointed. However, if our expectations are too high, then disappointment can be rather painful. However, without expectations, the quality of life diminishes. Pressing on and up is never an easy path. So he endured many an unpleasant confrontation with many a determined parent who was convinced “My child deserves an A.” Of course many parents believe their child deserves something they don’t merit regardless of performance. But George evaluated each student by his or her performance relative to a higher standard and not an arbitrary opinion. Excellence was his motto and he was not about to cave just to placate someone’s feelings. Excellence was his forte and he pursued it was a determination - that in my opinion was admirable.
If we examine all those things where excellence is required such as commercial travel, our highways, the economic system, our national defense, the medical system and unimagined technological advances, and then we’re not going to support teachers who have high standards? The very people who will educate the innovators, engineers, doctors, entrepreneurs. I believe there is a flaw in our reasoning if we demand quality yet hamstring the very people who will educate tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.
We go through life and experience people who expect a lot but give little. Thank God for people like George Barron, whose expectations were high lest we be submerged in a sea of mediocrity.
George, you were a good citizen, a great teacher Thanks for all you accomplished in spite of the frosty treatment you received for doing your duty. A job well done, good and faithful friend