Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Following Directions - Mr. Kuska

In 10th grade I entered Delcastle and was pretty excited to be in the power plant shop. My teacher was Mr. Reinhold Kuska, a German-born man who came to America as a child after WWII. He took power plant technology in a vo-tech high school in New Jersey, did a stint in the Navy, and worked in industry running the power plant at a RCA record factory for a while and was hired as the power plant teacher at Delcastle when the school opened.

On one of the first days, he gave us an assignment and I completed it but did not complete the heading the way he instructed. Mr. K was very specific about everything and his assignments consisted of a very specific heading with your name on the left, assignment number in the center, and date on the right. Each question had to be copied word for word from the book, we then had to skip a line, and write out the answer in complete sentences. He handed it back and told me to do it over. I protested and he replied, "if I don't teach you anything else, I'm going to teach you to follow instructions." I didn't like it but I did the assignment over and got a good grade.

I also looked into getting a new shop, my old buddy from kindergarten and St. Hedwig's, Mark Emory, was in appliance repair and I thought about switching. I asked my guidance counselor, Louis Fidance, about switching. Now guidance counselors did not want us switching shops. Fidance, it turned out, knew my dad and at some point gave me a photo of him working as lifeguard at Prices Run pool. Fisance was also a war hero from WWII. Anyway, he talked me into sticking with power plant and it ended up being a good choice.

I got on board with Mr. Kuska's methods and soon realized he was one of the smartest men I would come to know. He would often talk to me about life things like a father. He would stand next to me and put his arm around my shoulder and explain things a teenager thought like me thought I knew but really didn't. Before the movie Karate Kid featured Mr. Miyagi  teaching wax on/wax off, Mr. Kuska taught me the importance of following instructions. Mr. Kuska was my own Mr. Miyagi.

Mr. Kuska not only taught me about power plants, he taught me about life. He impacted my life in a big way.

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