Best, Mr Fiehler
“Dear Prodigious, Pertinent, Plethora-of-Requirements-Burdened Pupils”, this is how it would always start, the timely, organised, clear, succinct, step-by-step instructions of the work we were to complete before next class, that many of us blew off because Mr Fiehler was a stranger to laziness, to slacking off. Whether he completely trusted us in our completion of our work or whether he had decided a long time ago that it actually wasn’t his problem if we did it or not remains a mystery. He was reserved in the way he expressed thoughts or emotion (the peak of his outbursts having been a dry, and ever-so-professional “Grow up, Luc”). Yet despite his reserved ways he had something hidden in him, a glint in his eye, as if he couldn’t contain his excitement as he delved into Hawthorne, Baldwin, or T.S. Elliot. A shining smile, almost contrary to the timid personage, that would deem itself to be contagious when it hit you in the bustling, corridors of school. Perhaps he had more in common with Prufrock than we thought. His love for literature has deemed itself to be inspiring, heartwarming, in the same way that his record patience and genuine kindness were remarkable. He touched students with generous smiles and profound commitment and consideration.
Travelling to Singapore with him allowed us to discover him under a new light of timid enthusiasm and excitement. For some unknown reason, he started distributing winks, which never failed to make us giddy with appreciation for him. Discovering Mr Fiehler in such a setting was surprisingly enlightening as we were exposed to him outside the classroom and I remember being so encouraged by his sincerity. He guarded a painful secret, but he remained honest in emotion, perhaps despite himself. Or perhaps that is what kept him looking so young, he was sincere, blunt sometimes, almost child-like and innocent in a way, but his natural disposition to project kindness made his sincerity touching, something to look up to.
A general feeling of regret has emerged from his students at the realisation that we spent too little time letting him know how warmly we felt towards him as a person, but I firmly believe that Mr Fiehler's discreet nature would have prioritised and encouraged constructive outcomes, that would allow us to learn and grow as individuals, rather than to wallow in regret. I find it more healing to focus on such thoughts.
I remember the first day we walked into class and as distinguished and collected as ever he nonchalantly spun words into the air like “caveat”. To this day I struggle to understand what that word even means. He had mastered sarcasm like I’d never seen before. Subtle and somehow refined, it took us a few months to grasp but was glorious when we did. He was selective with praise which made it that much more rewarding. He was considerate of our workload and, I realise, would work doubly in order to make sure we weren’t weighed down ourselves. He was understanding of struggle and found no interest in criticism or punishment. At no time did his condition interfere with his work or professionalism.
His immaculate outfits and intentional stride will be sorely missed, as well as his genuine ability to see the best in people. I realise that he taught us more as a person than as a teacher, and for that I am so grateful.
We think the