Mae Jennings was a legend at Radford High.
She never married – instead she devoted her life to teaching biology and farming. She lived her whole life in the farmhouse where she was born and raised.
Miss Jennings was known as a strict grader and she would accept no frivolity in class or especially in the lab.
So I entered her class with a combination of terror and excitement. That’s because I wanted to be at a zoologist at that time in my education – and I already loved biology. My year was to be the last that she taught.
The rumors that it was my nit-picking that drove her to retire were greatly exaggerated…
…but not without some basis in fact.
The very first day of class, Miss Jennings peppered us with questions to test our incoming knowledge of the subject.
I was on fire.
Requirements for photosynthesis? What is this, fourth grade?
Diffusion vs. osmosis? Please.
Mitosis vs. meiosis? Piece of cake.
Then came the animal portion of our Q&A session. I was actually asked to stop raising my hand.
Then Miss Jennings did the unthinkable. She gave a wrong answer.
And I could contain myself no longer. After querying the class about the oldest living animals, she “corrected” everyone with the answer of the blue whale.
I politely disagreed, stating that a National Geographic magazine at my house stated that the Galápagos tortoise were the longest-lived animals.
Miss Jennings informed the class that animal longevity was proportional to heart size, hence the largest animal (the blue whale) is the longest-lived.
She then informed me that no rebuttal would be allowed and that, in fact, I could come back to her classroom after school for some educational detention.
Throughout my school career, I did my fair share of time in detention for talking during class. But I must say this was the first time it happened on the opening day of school…
What happened when I returned that afternoon was so bizarre that I couldn’t possibly make it up. And it taught me an extremely valuable lesson about decision making that is exceptionally useful in the markets – especially right now.
Let me explain…