Ferguson will be missed by Mercer Island
July 20, 2010 · Updated 10:14 AM
I was saddened to learn that my former teacher, Mr. Ferguson, had passed away recently. Of the many memories I have of him, from his early days signing me up for band at Mercer View Elementary, to encouraging me to play flute and string bass at North Mercer Junior High (jazz, band, orchestra — I played them all), Mr. Ferguson was always encouraging and positive. I even got a chance to be his substitute teacher 20 years later in 1997 at the middle school.
Mary Grady’s article speaks of racism, and he must have endured a lot. I remember one specific time when this student, a drummer, during band (I was a seventh-grader, he was an eighth-grader), yelled at Mr. Ferguson and called him the “N” word. We were all shocked. Mr. Ferguson handled it very well; I couldn’t believe how calm and collected he was. He knew the boy was trouble and had said something stupid, as junior high school students will, and rather than kicking him out immediately, Mr. Ferguson took the opportunity to discuss racism in the classroom. After about 10 or 15 minutes of rather uncomfortable discussion, we continued playing.
Mr. Ferguson was one of those teachers whose lessons stay with you throughout your life. And so I salute my old music trophy sitting in my garage, the one he gave me in the spring of 1980. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on with his former students and the community he served.