Everyone has people which touch their lives. There are those that are with us our entire lives like parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, but there are also those that are with us for a much shorter time, like teachers.
I’ve had countless teachers throughout my academic career, most of which were very good at their chosen profession. Teachers, as a whole, care deeply about the students in their classes, and it shows in the way they interact with these young people on a daily basis. Teachers know that to be effective, they have to reach their students on a personal level, so they strive to do just that, year after year and decade after decade. Most of us have one or two teachers that reached us better than the rest, and they will always have a place in our hearts. For me, that one teacher was Mr. Buen.
Mr. Buen was my high school math teacher for four years. He taught me Freshman Algebra, Sophomore Geometry, Junior Trigonometry, and Senior Math. Senior math was only offered when there were seniors who wanted to take it so Mr. Buen didn’t teach this class every year. The Velva High School Class of 1981 was exceptional in that 11 students (a quarter of our class) enrolled for Senior Math that year, and it was during that time that Mr. Buen became much more than a teacher to myself, James, Don, Shelley, Sara, Robert, Bruce, Rick, Greg, Melonie, and Terry.
Mr. Buen challenged us continually, and with each new bit of knowledge he taught us, our confidence grew at an exponential rate. I had previously considered myself an average student, but during Senior Math I became convinced that I was an exceptional one. I flourished in Mr. Buen’s Senior Math class. Maybe it was because math was my strongest subject, but more likely it was because Mr. Buen was my strongest teacher.
Mr. Buen was special to the Class of ’81, and we were thrilled when he agreed to speak at our commencement exercises on May 17th. I seem to remember him saying something about the mark of a good life is to leave the world better than you found it.
I was deeply saddened this morning when I learned Mr. Buen had passed away. I’m just one of the thousands of students that he taught during his 35 year career at Velva High School, and I’m sure others are feeling the same sense of loss that I am. I just want to say that I believe Mr. Buen lived a good life as he left the world better than he found it: He achieved this one student at a time.