Michael's Musings

Teacher Tuesday #1: Mr. Katulak

(Teacher Tuesday is a weekly feature in which I recognize someone who contributed to my education as a writer and human being. This is the first installment.)

I want to start this thing right, so I need to go back to the very beginning.

In my early years, I was what some might call an “advanced student.” Others have described me at that age as a “child prodigy.” Labels aside, at the age of six, I had skipped ahead to second grade and still found myself to be underwhelmed by the workload. I finished my classwork early, homework was not a challenge, and school was in danger of becoming a place I dreaded going on account of the boredom. Fortunately, I had a lot of people looking out for me, keeping my mind from going idle.

I was lucky to have a great deal of support at home. But on school grounds, I had one person especially who went the extra mile for me. That person was my principal at Memorial Elementary, Mr. Bob Katulak.

Mr. Katulak took extra time with me on a regular basis, calling me into his office so that he could give me extra assignments. As a second grader, he gave me page-long book report assignments, and we had discussion time together. I’ll never forget the first book he assigned to me:

It was not a new book to me; in fact, I’d had a long-standing love for it. (I’ll write about the ways this book influenced my desire to become a writer another time.) But it was the perfect way to enter this arrangement with Mr. Katulak. I knew from the get-go that he had impeccable taste, and from then on I would trust any book he handed to me.

Mr. Katulak was the first educator I can remember who encouraged me to reflect on what I read, to think analytically about what I liked and why. For that, I’m forever indebted.

(For the record, after talking it over with Mr. Katulak, I realized that I liked Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for the flying food and also the kindly Grandpa. For that matter, I still do.)


3 responses to “Teacher Tuesday #1: Mr. Katulak”

  1. Hello Michael, I’m Charlie. It really did my heart good to read the first installment of your Teacher Tuesday Blog Post. Your second grade experience with Mr. Katulak was so inspiring for me because it reminded me so much of my own experience in second grade. My second Grade teacher Mrs. Friday was my Mr. Katulak, as she set the same kind of positive example for me that he set for you. I had not seen or heard from Mrs. Friday (now Mrs. King) in over forty years, but thanks to Face Book, last week I got the chance to thank her. Reading your story was like putting the icing on the cake. Thank you for posting it! By the way, I’m gonna pick up a copy of ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.’ Take Care!


    What an honor to be remembered in such a nice way. I follow your facebook postings and I am so proud that you are a published author. I am currently a superintendent of schools on Long Island and have about 4 more years to go before retirement. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Robert Katulak

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