Wilfed Boykin - A dedicated teacher vs Class Clown | Beaufort County Now | I do not know if there is a class in teacher school on how to deal with class clowns, but one of my teachers at CHS knew how to handle my excesses and he did so without saying a word. Below are a couple of examples of my boisterous behavior in class. | Wilfred Boykin, a dedicated teacher, Clarkston Georgia High School,Class Clown
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Wilfed Boykin was my Geometry teacher at Clarkston High in Georgia. - He was a dedicated teacher vs the class clown. There is no doubt on who will win, but some teachers use more than go to the principal's office as a technique. In order to be a true class clown you need a keen sense of the boundary line between mischief and just plain delinquent (that is the word used back in the 1950's for incorrigible students.) I usually had a pretty good idea where the line was drawn. The key was to push just hard enough to fall within the teachers discipline and not the principal's. I have another story where I got cross-ways with two different principals at Bass High.
I do not know if there is a class in teacher school on how to deal with class clowns, but one of my teachers at CHS knew how to handle my excesses and he did so without saying a word. Below are a couple of examples of my boisterous behavior in class.
I was never particular good in math and Geometry was nodifferent. Mr. Wilfred Boykin, as I remember, was a highly dedicated math teacher who seemed to love the subject and attacked the teaching with an enthusiasm that I could not understand. My buddy Clint and I sat next to each other in Geometry in Mr. Boykin's class.
During one of his explanations about the Euclidean Geometry concept of infinity, he tried to explain infinity by breaking what today would be a cardinal rule in public school. He actually mentioned GOD. "Who made God? God made God. Who made God that made God? Etc." He was making the point that the question and answer would go on forever with no end i.e. infinity. He could have used the chicken and egg example but it would not have had as much impact on a class full of Southern Baptist.
Here is the textbook definition: "In geometry, a point at infinity or ideal point is an idealized limiting point at the "end" of each line"------ Point At Infinity (Yes, I had to look this up again.)
After about the fourth Who Made comment, I could not contain myself and blurted out the advertising line from Italian Swiss Colony Wine commercials, which were popular at the time. "That little old winemaker, me." He barely slowed down, looked at me, and pointed to the door. That was my cue to go into the hall and compose myself. I had been sent to the hall a few times before.
While I had a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Boykin, but I had no interest nor talent in math. I was most likely still a bit angry about my family's move from Atlanta to a podunk town in Dekalb county. While Clarkston was only twelve miles from my old school, it might as well have been in another state. I was a city boy transplanted into a dairy and farm county that was just beginning to bloom into a suburb of Atlanta.
This was in the old rock building constructed from Stone Mountain granite. It actually had a fireplace in one of the classrooms.
Photo courtesy of Ted McDonald
I never thought much about this at the time since I was a 17-year-old smart a$$ trying to impress everyone around except the teachers. Over the years, I came to realize three things about the encounter:
Mr. Boykin was an extremely gifted teacher who tried his best to make a difficult subject enjoyable.
I was really a jerk as a young man who was a bit too full of himself.
I am still a jerk as an old man who is a bit too full of himself.
I guess you might say that I had an inferiority complex during high school as I was always trying to be the class clown and we all know how twisted most of those guys were. Some grew up to be George Carlin, but I grew up to realize that I was a Jerk. Once during another discussion on the theorems and postulates my boredom overtook me and I went into my "Leg Spasm Routine." Essentially, it started with a slight patting of my foot and worked its way up to my knee slowly and eventually turning into a violent leg movement, which caused me to fall on the floor in spasms. Predictably, after my performance, Mr. Boykin stopped talking and looked at the door and me. I did not need the finger point to understand his meaning and slowly got up "full of myself" and went into the hall.
It wasn't until many years later that I finally understood his dedication and have carried a small sense of guilt for making his life miserable that year in 1962. I often wished, I could meet him again and apologize for being such a jerk. On a side note, I do remember the difference between a Theorem and a Postulate. Good work Mr. Boykin.
Updated August 2, 2018
Wilfred E. Boykin Eulogoy Passed on July 15, 2018 at the age of 81
As delivered on July 30, 2018 at Glenn Chapel Emory University by Martha Clinkscales; one of his care givers during his declining years.
Seven years ago I got a call from a young trust officer at Wells Fargo about services for one of his clients who demonstrated early stage dementia. Thus began Personal Care's relationship with Wilfred Elmo Boykin. Most of us gathered together today are here because we cared for Will and knew him well, and knowing him well means knowing that Will was a hoarder.
Will found interest in a wide range of pursuits. He was natively curious and passionate about life. When Joel Penny first introduced me to Will I was charged with the task of helping him clean up his act-which was no easy feat, because Will clearly believed he had nothing to clean up!
Another mandate from this initial engagement was that Will remain within walking distance from the Emory campus. Will had high energy, and the disease of dementia supercharged this energy so that he needed to be moving most of the time. He used the Emory campus as his "trail," and he walked through the gardens and the campus frequently.
Joel and I made a plan to move Will down the street from his condominium at Somerset Heights, which was packed to the gills, to a new condominium at Clairmont Place, a retirement community with additional supports for Will, such as dining services. Joel and I hoped we could help Will "curate" his belongings and get a fresh start with a decluttered living space ....
No such luck! These two buildings were about a half a mile apart, and Will, at 75, had tremendous energy. Soon we received reports that he was hauling furniture, books, knick-knacks, etc. on a dolly from one building to the next! I would classify our effort as mixed at best!
Personal Care primarily provides personal care in the form of caregiver support. Joel had hoped that in the beginning Will could get a bit of companion support. The first challenge was that he did not want said support! He indulged Joel's pleadings to have a little help, and then the caregiver would have to keep up with Will's pace-a Herculean task. That is after finding him-also a big challenge because Will was on the go all the time. So the early years of helping Will were ones of as much "invisible" support as we could manage and he would accept.
To know Will was also to know that he was a definitive intellectual. His life was built around the pursuits of the mind. He was a mathematician by training and profession. His progression through dementia was both eased and burdened by this intellect. His compensating skills were amazing. Yet the devolving of his mind caused him great frustration and some agitation.
Will found great solace in music, which was a part of his life early on. He loved opera, classical music, and sacred music. When I contacted Glenn Memorial to make arrangements for this service I told the administrator and Dr. Albrecht, our esteemed organist, that Will would have preferred a concert recital more than a worship service! He loved walking over to Emory to attend lectures and productions, and visit the museums. Most of all he loved the music, and his love for melody remained with him until his last moments. Will sang through his last week of life.
When Danielle Grabol came back to work at Personal Care, after her brief sabbatical to finish her college degree and work at Wesley Woods, she took up the management of Will's care. Eventually he moved to Arbor Terrace. Eventually his care needs increased, and his engagement with the caregivers deepened. A number of you are here this morning. Geralyn, who was with Mr. Boykin in the transition from Clairmont Place to Arbor Terrace, Sandra, Janice and Timikia. Cathy Schaum, our RN who ran interference with Arbor Terrace and Crossroads Hospice is also here. Through the changes in Will's condition he had excellent support through this team.
A few weeks ago as it became clear that Will's life was fading, Danielle spoke with me about whether to have a memorial service. We both felt strongly that we needed to honor Will in this way, because we became family with Will. Bob and Sammy Sizemore, neighbors from his years Somerset Heights, remained faithfully part of his life through the ups and downs. Aside from them, Will had no community, except for the facilities in which he lived.
In my life I have grown up with a number of proprietary eponyms. I use these big words in homage to Will. Proprietary eponyms are items like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Xerox, generic trademarks where name and function are eponymous. All of these are familiar to all of you, and none more so than the search engine, "Google." It is so ubiquitous, that now when we search for information on the internet, we often way we "googled" it.
Well folks, I googled Will Boykin. And I got a big surprise, actually several surprises.
First, through the archives of the Rose Library at Emory, I was able to look at the yearbook from Will's second year at Oxford College. I learned more about Will Boykin from perusing those pages than you might imagine. Will was active in many areas. He was involved in the Methodist Fellowship. He was a member of the glee club, and their accompanist for both years there. He was active in service clubs and honoured in academic clubs. He was one of the editors of the annual itself.
The photos speak of a happy and purposeful student, who was engaged in learning and in community. That glimpse into the 1956 annual, entitled MEMORY, helped me understand so much about Will. Incidentally, the annual lists the home address of each classmate, and Wiii's is listed as Halcyondale, Georgia-seriously, try finding Halcyondale Georgia on today's map! I will give you a hint: It is in Screven County. Where, you might ask, is Screven County? Think southeast Georgia. Sylvania is the county seat!
Will was born there. His mother was an educator and later the postmistress of Halycondale. His father worked in agriculture. Will was predeceased by his sister. Today his cousin, Sam Mashburn, and his wife Diane, are here to represent Will's small but mighty family.
There was much, much more on Google than you might imagine. Most of you know that this kind of internet pursuit can be quite a rabbit hole. Certainly this was the case with my research on Will.
First I came across a blog post, written in 2016 by one Bobby Tony, also known as Tony Adams. Titled "Wilfred Boykin - A dedicated teacher vs Class Clown," Adams gives a recollection of the impact that Mr. Boykin had on him as his geometry teacher at Clarkston High School in 1962.
Additional google discoveries included a treasure trove of academic publications, many that Will authored, and many that he reviewed for professional journals. Some of the titles include:
• Trends for Mathematics Education, 1978
• A Middle School Extension of Pick's Theorem to Areas of Nonsimple Closed Polygonal Regions 1995
• Tips for the Mathematics Teacher: Research Based Strategies ... - EMIS reviews 1998
I have pondered the impact that Mr. Boykin's life has had on others, as evidenced in these remarks, and in the trail of teaching, writing, and thinking that I found on the internet, wondering if he had any idea of the difference he made in many, many lives. I can't answer that question. I don't know. Here is what I think: Mr. Boykin had such a strong sense of purpose and passion in his life that for him, the point was following the call, and not dwelling on the impact of his work. He taught with deep joy and engaged, because he did what he loved. Through following he call he changed lives.
Did he care? I am certain he did. A few days ago I was cleaning out the last of his effects in his residence at Arbor Terrace. On his dresser was this framed poem, composed, as it notes on the back, by his class, 1998, Macon campus. It is a sweet tribute to his teaching, and it is signed by all of his students. Tucked inside the frame was a sympathy card from these same students. Their tour as Will's students coincided with the year his mother died, and they were grieving with him this great loss.
I think of this treasure that Will held onto until the end: the frame that framed a career of teaching that at that point spanned 38 years, my friends. Clearly his passion for teaching and caring never dimmed.
I give thanks for each person here. We are bound together through our care for a gentle soul, and deeply passionate spirit, and a man who had great purpose in his life. It is fitting to be on this majestic campus in this beautiful space to celebrate his life. Will believed that his gifts were developed at Oxford College at Emory. Two years later he graduated on this campus. Thank you for being part of this circle today. Thanks be to God.