May 07, 2008
It is not insignificant that John McCain, who may be the country's next president, has hanging in his office a photograph of William Bee Ravenel III, or that McCain recently called Ravenel "one of the best men I have ever known." Ravenel was one of McCain's teachers at Episcopal High School, and the high praise he has garnered from the senator shows just much influence the best teachers can have in their pupils' lives. Journalist Ken Ringle, who attended Episcopal High School with McCain, writes in the Weekly Standard that Ravenel "had rigorous standards for grammar and writing," that he "revolutionized (and greatly updated) the English curriculum," and that he "gave standardized tests so often that the College Board exams were almost familiar to his pupils when they finally came around." But "Hamlet and Macbeth in his classes were not just plays; they were intensely human narratives with profound implications," Ringle notes. "The struggles of their characters, we came to understand, were in some sense the potential maps of our own lives." Ravenel's seriousness, his fun, the way he comported himself--all inspired and in many ways shaped a great American hero. Perhaps education is not absent from the GOP side of the 2008 elections, after all.
"A Hero's Life," by Ken Ringle, Weekly Standard, May 12, 2008