The picture you see is a picture of one of the world’s most influential gym teachers of all time: Dave Tesnow.
Alex and I met ”Mr. Tesnow” back in the 1980’s as the daring, passionate, and caring physical education teacher that was ready to take our class to a whole new level of fun in exercise.
Kickball, roller skating, scooter races, among many other innovative and refreshing ways to combine effort, exercise, and fun, were among the kind of paths he paved.
He impacted us greatly back then so much with his professionalism and father figure coaching style that it’s no wonder he’s loved by thousands of students to this day.
I am most proud of teaching so many years and being able to say that I taught over 3000 students and over 20 of their children.
He was, and still is, a fantastic role model encouraging students to bring out the best in them, not just in exercise, but in all areas of their life. Spend only a few moments with him, even now, and you’ll feel the energy he radiates and the care he offers you through his words. He’s not just a husband, a father and a teacher. He’s a role model, a leader and a friend. This is why I ran up to our elementary school gym teacher and asked if we could have the honor of having him be one of our male panelists for our upcoming book, The Dating GPS™. He was honored. We were honored. We were honored that he was honored. It was an honorable moment to say the least.
As kids, we didn’t even know he had a first name! We only really found out last year that what his name is. It’s David. But he’s not David to us. Or Dave. Oh, no. He is “Mr. Tesnow.” There’s some kind of superhero-ish-ness to the way we say his name. You can almost hear an echo. He’s that great to us, probably because we all equate him with passion and power, and his value is priceless.
When I met Alex in fourth grade, she became aware of a school system filled with positive influences and teachers who mattered. Looking back, we remembered that when the school bell rang, the faculty didn’t just call it a day. The teachers invested their precious time, went the extra mile, and made sure that we not only understood the rules of standard grammar and arithmetic, but that we excelled in being the best possible versions of ourselves. Children can get lost in trying to find their identity through school influences, pressures from home and culture, and messages from a community and/or television. But we attended a school where teachers encouraged values expected of a young lady or gentleman. They provided us structure and purpose and showcased the right type of leadership to help children develop better opinions and make smarter decisions. This lead us to develop a solid foundation of common sense, learning triumphs and consequences, and in turn, helped us to survive and prosper in this crazy little thing called life.
Whether we were climbing (or, um, hanging onto) “The Rope,” white-knuckling the rings in hopes to outlast our strong and tenacious classmates, playing soccer or dodging the dodge ball, Mr. Tesnow was there for us: spotting, (laughing), caring, (laughing), watching. He laughed a lot, but it was always with us. Never at us. He helped us find humor in our efforts and setbacks, and taught us to stay positive and move forward. He dug deep in his heart to find words that helped us find our own power to get through things we didn’t think we were capable of doing. And somehow, no matter how hard the task, we’d leave class with a refreshing smile and talk about how much farther we were gonna kick that kickball and beat MaryAnn’s distance the next time out on the field.
This was the 80′s. Our time. Our world. The XXIII Olympiad dominated the single-digit Zenith television sets (that acted more like pieces of furniture) and we all wanted to be like Mary Lou Retton. We aspired to land a perfect 10 score in everything we did, and a young, vibrant and motivated Mr. Tesnow was right there to help anchor us to reality, passion and fitness.
[I] established the 1st elementary roller skating (not blading) curriculum [at Middleton Elementary] for grades 3-5.
Mr. Tesnow was a pioneer in securing roller skating as part of the curriculum and we loved the couple of weeks that we got to strap on those noisy, metal skates over our shoes and either struggle our way up, or glide confidently around the hard-wood gymnasium floor. Age-appropriate music would play, and we’d rock and roll with our super cool gym teacher hoping time would never end.
Whether we had a gymnastic ability or were built a bit less, say, elegantly, it really didn’t matter: With his ingrained value system of discipline, hard work and dedication, we knew we had someone in our corner who not only believed in us but, also, made sure that we had fun along the way. When 5th grade completed for us, we carried a warm memory of our cool and fun gym teacher as we ventured into new schools, relationships and whatever else life wanted to hand us.
Several decades passed, and with the introduction of facebook, we saw his name (You know him too? Follow him on facebook! We do!) “Friend Request” was an immediate button-click and we watched hundreds of others do the same. The excitement of being connected to Mr. Tesnow again was so high I had put together a little event to give us all a trip down memory lane. It was time for kickball. I held the event right at our elementary school’s field to bring back former students and gave them a taste of the kind of fun we all had back in our younger days.
Plenty came to shake this great man’s hand and others came to do the same and play ball with him. Our hearts returned home.
Even in these years, he remains the superhero teacher we knew back then.
Needless to say, it’s evident that Alex and I love Mr. Tesnow. We can honestly say that teachers like him, like our band teacher (Mr. Stahlberg) and like many others from our elementary school have made Alex an influential educator, myself a positive leader and motivator, and plenty of others slightly better people by providing an impactful experience of great teaching and leadership.
Mr. Tesnow, our stellar teacher for 41 magnificent years, only retired just a few months ago in June, 2011. The local newspaper, The Skokie Review showed readers why he’s loved by so many.
Twelve male panelists, placed within four teams, will play an integral part of the The Dating GPS™. We love and appreciate men, so we requested men who are loved and appreciated to play an important role in our book.
Why did he say “Yes” to our project?
I wanted to be a small part of this book to help guide people in dealing with their relationships in today’s world and to understand what they have to go through and experience to find the true meaning of love.
… this book will have a long term effect because it will help people discover what love is and is not, why it may have eluded them in the past, why it hurts, how the hurts affect relationships, how to open your heart freely to encompass all the love for another which, in the end, eventually bonds two people together for life.
Mr. Tesnow is happily married for almost 42 years, is a loving father of two and grandfather of two.
May his leadership baton be one day be passed to his two grandchildren. They have some superhero gym shoes to fill, but something tells us that the Tesnow DNA will surely lead the way to more great happenings. xo
[Authors to article: Anita Myers & Alex Sukhoy]