Denise Day Spencer

May 14, 2010

“He is my teacher”

Filed under: Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 6:55 pm

Tomorrow is graduation day at our school. My first graduation without Michael; it will be difficult, to say the least. To me graduation was always much more of a special day for Michael than for me. He was the one who worked directly with the kids. I watched them embrace him and thank him for all he had done for them. I saw them proudly introduce him to their families. I heard them describe what he had meant to them in their graduation essays. I was always so proud of him on graduation day.

So as a tribute to Michael, this time I’d like to let a couple of students speak for themselves.

First, an excerpt from a letter a former student sent to me during Michael’s illness:

You all made a differance in my life. Not just in the life that I had while I was there, but in the life that I have enjoyed since, in the person that I have become. Mr. Spencer is an amazing man, and I thank God for the chance to know him. He was the first person in my life who I saw that was a believer and a skeptic. He truely embodied for me the truth…that to be a Christian does not have to mean accepting everything that you hear. Just because someone behind a pulpit says something does not mean that Christians should blindly agree and follow. We are to Follow the Lord, and no one else. That we should never stop seeking his Will, and desiring to know Him above all others. That it is ok to question. Mr Spencer has always been open with the fact that he struggles and questions and wonders and worries….and none of these things lessened his love for the Lord. Saying it now, it may seem a very simple thing, just Michael being true to himself and his Lord, but to me it was a very powerful lesson to finally learn. In truth not one that I fully learned until many years later, but when I did I knew exactly where the seed had been planted — with Michael Spencer

And this is a letter Michael received from a current international student before he died:

We meet many people while we live. However, I think there are only a few people who I can confidently say, “He is my teacher.” Mr. Spencer: You are one of the people who I can say, “He is my teacher” without any hesitation. You may not realize how much did I love your class and how much I am missing it. Every single class that I could have with you was great teaching to me. Even if I couldn’t express it every time, I loved your way of thinking and viewing all literature. I need to confess that you are the one who brought my interest toward literature again. Even if I was one who loved literature, it is true that I lost all interest since I started to study in America. The barrier of language blocked it totally. So I thought I would never get a chance to read literature with great enthusiasm. However, your class brought the interest back to me. I always miss you and your consideration toward me. Even if my English was horrible — and still it is — you’ve always encouraged me and tried to understand me…I miss your teaching voice, and all other things that I’ll never forget in my life. I still need your lesson

This young man speaks for a multitude of us, doesn’t he? We do miss Michael’s teaching voice. We all still need his lessons.

I am so thankful that Internet Monk is going to continue. But I am also eternally grateful that Michael will live on in the lives of countless young people. Thank you, Sweetheart. I’m still so proud of you on graduation day.



  1. Beautiful.

    Comment by Wendy — May 14, 2010 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  2. Take your box of Kleenex to graduation, Denise. You will need them tomorrow more than ever. I am sure there will be MANY students who will transfer their hugs and “thank yous” to you tomorrow. I’ll be sending love and hugs your way. There’s nothing like an OBI graduation — and there’ll never be an OBI graduation like this one. It will be special for you.

    Comment by Cynthia Jones — May 14, 2010 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  3. This post made me cry a little, but I know there will be a lot of tears on graduation day. I hope there will be also lots of laughter and sweet memories, Denise. I wish you the peace, strength, love of God.

    Comment by JoanieD — May 15, 2010 @ 5:19 am | Reply

  4. Thank you for sharing these and your own feelings.

    Comment by Wolf Paul — May 15, 2010 @ 8:06 am | Reply

  5. Denise, I have appreciated hearing your own “voice”…not overshadowed by Michael’s. It has been a blessing to meet the woman who meant the world to him. Keep writing.

    Comment by Kat — May 15, 2010 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

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