Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 10, 2012

Facebook screw up results in a tribute to great teacher

"When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me."

-- Tony Bennett

A Facebook pop up reminded me to send a birthday greeting to my eighth grade teacher, Jerry Vogt in Cincinnati.

I did. Only to find that he died six months previous.

I’m embarrassed that Facebook encouraged me to send birthday greetings to a dead person.

One of my Facebook friends was murdered.

Until I “defriended” her, Facebook would send messages, saying “you have not talked to Amanda in some time, post on her wall.”

Facebook plays an interesting part in my life. I was a very early adopter and have thousands of Facebook friends. It’s how I keep up with people I have not seen in decades and people I see every day.

My daughter’s fiancé proposed via Facebook. Simpler, cheaper, and as effective as the “down on one knee” method I chose.

Facebook gave me a unique opportunity: the chance to say thank you to a man who made a difference in my life. Going back to eighth grade, adolescence, hit me hard. In a few months, I went from being a shy, conforming, kid, to a loud, cocky, smart aleck.

I was a teacher’s worse nightmare.

Jerry Vogt could handle it in a very unique way. The first thing Mr. Vogt did was isolate the troublemakers. He took the four guys smarting off and put them in a row far away from the other students.

He obviously spotted potential. The four of us, included a future dentist, a big time home builder and a high ranking executive at Proctor and Gamble. Looking back, we were the four who had the greatest degree of professional achievement and notoriety.

Like carefully breaking a horse, Jerry did not stifle our energy and creativity. He worked to channel it in positive directions. He was imaginative in how he kept us in line. I was smarting off in music class so he had me stay after class and sing to the rest of the school.

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