My Algebra teacher
is 84 now, he lives alone
in the house downtown that he grew up in,
his mother and sister long gone
I’d love to sit with him in his parlor
hear him talk about his life
how 50 years of math
brought him purpose and joy
I would rejoice at recalling
his famous sayings, his
booming voice, weaker now
but still full of encouraging authority
And secretly I would hope for a pop quiz,
to prove that, despite years gone by
I still remember his exacting lessons
on how to make sense out of x and y
My Algebra teacher, Sr. Mosto, with me (in the sweater) and tow of my best friends in 1987.
32 years ago, my Dad informed our family that we were moving to Ecuador for two years. He had been recently hired to be the new Director General of the American School of Guayaquil. I had mixed feelings about going, and leaving my Jersey shore world, but then again, I was 12. I asked him what it was going to be like, going to a new school, with all my classes in Spanish. He said, “You are going to have Mr. Mosto as your math teacher. He is an excellent math teacher.” Honestly, at the time, those words didn’t exactly excite me 😉
He was absolutely right, though. Sr. Mosto had a very clear way of explaining math. I still remember the way he formed his numbers in chalk on the board. He had flair, he had presence, discipline, exactitude, authority, efficiency, and an absolute command of algebra. He rarely got angry, and could handle a classroom full of 50 junior high students (yes, 50) AND give them an excellent base in mathematics without ever having to raise his voice. He simply and kindly commanded respect. Although he never received any formal training in teaching, he was one of those people that were born to teach. He taught at the Colegio Americano for well over 40 years, only recently retiring in 2008.
Mr. Mosto never married, and lived with his mother until her death. Now he lives alone, and at the age of 84 has medical issues, but remains alert and lucid. He pretty much has everything taken care of as far as his physical needs go. I know this because just last week, a fellow ex-alum, Tzely Shalev, got in touch with him. As he spends most of his days alone, with a godson helping him around the house, Mr. Mosto told her that he would love to hear from his students, and maybe some could even come visit him. So, she started a Facebook group and within a day had 1,700 members. Barely a week has gone by and now the group has about 2,600 former students, just from our school alone (he also taught evenings at a few other private and public schools).
Mr. Mosto has received hundreds of messages- and best of all- visits from students! On Wednesday a group of friends from my graduating class visited him and even gave him a tablet with data service so he could see all of the messages we had posted on his Facebook group, and set him up with a Facebook account.
When I look back at the teachers I have had that truly formed my intellect and gave me time-tested tools, Mr. Mosto holds one of, if not THE highest spot.
The outpouring of love and sincere desires to help from so many of my fellow alums is absolutely beautiful. What I am most grateful for is that the opportunity to do this has happened while he is still with us, when he truly needs it the most. All of this has filled my heart with indescribable joy.