There are people in your life who you cannot live without. Those are easy to understand. The far more difficult to place within the context of your own life are the ones who make such a subtle, yet profound impact. In many cases, you might not even realize they are there until they’re gone.
I was a senior in high school, looking for an English credit when I signed up for Media Analysis. I wasn’t particularly passionate about the class. It just sounded interesting.
It didn’t take long, though, for the teacher to prove his incredible passion and enthusiasm for the media. He would say, on an almost daily basis, “the medium is the message.” It wasn’t until years later that I found out that, no, in fact, my 12th grade media teacher had not coined that phrase. For all I knew, he was a visionary.
I was right. He was revolutionary in the way he was able to convey his teaching to young people. It was like he spoke our language. He took an interest. He asked the football players about their games. He checked in about our lives. He even helped one boy ask a girl to homecoming. In the middle of class. As a student journalist, I always knew which office I could go to if I needed a really brilliant quote or even to bounce an idea around. There were some teachers who had to “fit me in” to their busy schedules. I never felt that way with the man who so excitedly would share his ideas about the way media can impact our lives.
What had been, in August, an academic whim, turned into a pretty deep passion for the media by December. I didn’t know it yet, but I would, three years later, get a college degree in Telecommunications, with a focus in “Media and Society.” The enthusiasm and dedication to learning was so contagious in Doug Koski’s class, it changed my educational pursuits.
It was, then, with great shock, that I found out that Mr. Koski passed away last week. I hadn’t known he was ill. I hadn’t spoken to the man in three years. Yet, as my mother shared with me one of her usual, seemingly random tidbits of news, I could feel the impact that this man had on my life.
This was a man whose simple job had become extraordinary. We’ve all had teachers, many of them very good. This great one, though, epitomized what every educator hopes to become: an inspiration to his students.
Even more so, the piece that strikes me as particularly meaningful is that this wasn’t just any inspirational teacher: it was my media analysis teacher. His message was about how media impacts our lives, influences our decisions, changes the way we think. He taught us how to take the raw information that the media was giving us and look for the angles, look for the reasoning. How profound it is, then, that the man who taught me so much about media analysis is continuing to teach me about life in far more meaningful and, in some ways, mysterious ways.
“The medium is the message.” Doug Koski taught me that, repeating it at an almost daily rate. Now, as I sit here thinking about the man who shared his enthusiasm for media with me, I can’t help but think about how his teaching was the medium for one very important message.
May his memory be for a blessing.