One of my favorite movies of all time is "Mr. Holland's Opus" starring Richard Dreyfuss. He plays a high school music teacher who makes a huge impact on his students over the years. He does all he can to lift them up and help them reach their potential- whether it be in music or in life. Every time I am reminded of a teacher who made the biggest impact in my life. He's my "Mr. Holland," who also just happens to be a music teacher.
Mr. Ambrosino was more than a great music teacher. He poured life into his students. He inspired our chorus at North Babylon Senior High School to work hard and sing our best. I took voice lessons with him, and he pushed me to reach my potential as a singer. It was because of him that I had the lead in our high school musical in my senior year. It was the ultimate role- playing Jesus in the musical "Godspell." We had so much talent in our group, and because there were only ten parts in this musical, we had two full casts. I shared the role with one other person. And we wanted nothing but the best for the other team. That was all because of Mr. Ambrosino- his love for each of us set the example. No egos- just love for each other.
Mr. Ambrosino also took time to care for each one of us. It was because of his love for us that he was more than Mr. Ambrosino- he was Uncle Phil.
I was excited to see him every school day. I would check in with my homeroom teacher, and go right to the chorus room. The moment I walked into the room, Uncle Phil would wrap his arms around me and give me the biggest hug (teachers were able to do that in the 1980's.) He would take the time to check in with me. If I was having a bad day, he would give words of encouragement. He also wasn't afraid to give you advice that might not have been the answer you were looking for. But he would conveyed it with great love. He made the bitter pill easier to swallow.
There was one more thing about Uncle Phil that was not a part of Mr. Holland's character. Uncle Phil was not afraid to share his faith. His love for Jesus showed in everything he did. I remember him sharing scripture with our group. He was very active in his church. He invited myself and a couple of classmates to sing for a special Good Friday service. It was because of his example that I wanted to grow in my faith. His love for me and my classmates was akin to the love that our Heavenly Father has for each one of us.
Uncle Phil made a huge difference in my life. He made a deep impact in the lives of a number of classmates. Some of them have stopped by his home to visit. If I were still on Long Island, I would be one of them. He was my Mr. Holland.
Who was your Mr. Holland? Was there a teacher or two that shaped you into the person you are today? If it's possible, find a way to reach out to them know how much they impacted your life.
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