How 'Mr. Tod' became 'Mr. Enchantment'; Life of 'retired' schoolteacher has its rewards

I've reached the point in my life at which I simply have to acknowledge that my career is, um, winding down.

I've taught at various levels from kindergarten through college, and in recent years I've found myself substituting or "filling in" at places where I'm needed.

Basically, I enjoy the unexpectedness of my assignments and the adjustment to new students and new situations.

I think it has worked out well on both sides. Oh, well, no record is perfect and I've told the story on myself of being referred to as "that white-haired old geezer," but that was atypical.

Mostly, though, my students generally seem to settle on calling me "Mr. Tod" and I answer to that just fine.

I can recall a more formal situation, though, in which I found myself responding to a more formal title. In seeking to bolster academic accomplishments-to "fluff them up a bit," as the director put it-I was invited to a career school to teach units of English and math designed to upgrade student scores on standardized tests. The course, conceived as a quick fix to perceived problems, was formally termed "The Enhancement Program," and early on one of the students tagged me with the title "Mr. Enhancement." That one caught on and stuck with me, until a student in a hurry happily misspoke and labeled me "Mr. Enchantment." That one stuck, too, delivered with varying degrees of sarcasm.

Seniors correspondent Tod Johnson grew up in Rainier Valley. He graduated from Franklin High School in 1942, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington. He now resides in Jacksonville, Fla.

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