A Teacher in and out of the Class

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By Colten

William and I were very lucky to be paired with our host, Nate Quarcelino. Not only does Nate have a good taste in music, but he is a fabulous cook. Nate retired from his math teaching position and department chair position at Greenwood High School in 2005. After retiring Nate is able to spend more time visiting his grandchildren in Florida, but always comes back near WKU where he and his wife, who has passed, called home. He can never stay in Florida too long for Nate is now a pastor at Pembroke Christian Church, where he has preached for the last eight and a half years. He says he will continue preaching until “they boot me out.” I describe Nate to you and will continue to tell you about some of his stories because it connects to the world that is and the kind of world that Nate wants to live in and strives to create.

As we ate fruit provided by William, Nate finished cooking the dinner. During this time Nate talked about segregation that still occurs in the world around him. One specific example he pointed out occurred in the churches. African Americans go to their church, and whites go to their church. He noticed that there is little to zero mixing, and told a story that occurred six years ago as an elderly black woman walked into his church. He recalls the first time that she was wearing a “dress, white gloves, wonderful hat, and a huge smile.” Nate paid close attention, unsure of how his congregation would react. Soon a young teenager came over to this woman and welcomed her to the church and informed her about the church. After the sermon Nate goes speak with the woman and lets her know that he appreciates her coming. He notices that she shows up every fourth Sunday. He learns that is because her son’s work schedule makes it to where he is not able to take her to the further away predominately African American church. The woman said she had visited another church (known to be predominately white) before but they didn’t even speak to her. After about a year, the African American woman decided to become a member of the Christian Church.

This begs the question, what type of world do we want to live in? A world where people don’t talk to others because of the color of their skin? People treat someone differently because they are not the same? Nate tells us that he wants to live in world filled compassion and love for one another and thinks that is part of being a good citizen. He especially wants Christians to show who they are and what they represent “by [their] love.” However, “[Some] people lack the confidence to be good and therefore put down others,” he explains. Nate recalls another story of the church where it reaches out and tries to connect to others by declaring gays a part of the church. Then he said that about fifty percent of the church left. Nate believes that we obligated to care about others and states clearly, “You’re human. What’s the point if you’re not going to care?” This is very similar to the empathy that we have talked about having in Citizen and Self. When asked how these obligations connected in our country and community, Nate responded that if you take care of the individuals around you, you take care of your community, which trickles up and benefits the country.

We asked Nate about another social issue that he felt close to, and to no surprise he responded with education. Something that I also feel deeply about, as it is what I plan to do with my life. Nate remarked that he heard a saying. It went something like people can “steal your money, steal your identity, but cannot steal you education.” Nate believes that an education empower people and promotes a better life. (An interesting aspect that we should have brought to the conversation was the fact that some kids receive a crappy  education because of where they grow up.) Nate says the best returns in teaching is that you truly can “touch lives” and that he did. So me kids just needed someone in their life that cared about them he states and for one kid, Nate was that one person.

The Kentucky Kitchen Table project has allowed me to get more of a feel of how people in our community view citizenship. Although this project was meant for myself and the person I had dinner with, it sparked  conversation with my roommate, family, and friends and became a great way to start some of the same conversations with other people.

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