I have never called Mr. and Mrs. Bunting “Rick and Diane” in my life until this post. As parents of my friend Lisa and former teachers, I never considered them as “adults” with first names.
Mrs. Bunting was an elementary school teacher in my hometown school. Mr. Bunting was the high school general music and chorus teacher. The lessons I learned from them inside and outside the classroom continue to influence my life today.
In addition to being the music teacher, Mr. Bunting was a member of the Susquehanna String Band. Each year in elementary school, we would gather for an assembly in the cafeteria/auditorium. Mr. Bunting and his friends Dan and John would perform and lead us in sing-alongs to songs I still sing to my young nieces and nephews. It doesn’t matter how old I am, The Bubble Gum Song still makes me laugh as kids sing with their mouths “stuffed” with pretend bubble gum.
Growing up, the Bunting house was always a place I associated with happiness and music. Our women’s choir rehearsed in their living room. In the autumn months, we drank cider and had fresh apples after singing. We never thought it odd to be rehearsing in a teacher’s house after school, something which would never happen today.
On Thanksgiving Eve, the churches in my hometown hold an eccumenical service for the community. The churches take turn hosting the service from year to year. My friends and I participated in this annual tradition when we were students. Mr. Bunting would conduct the choir when the Presbyterians hosted and Mrs. Bunting served as the accompanist. At the time, I was just excited to be making music with my friends. Now, I realize these services taught me a great lesson about religious tolerance and the importance of spirituality to people of varying faith traditions.
At the end of the school year, my high school hosted the senior recognition concert featuring performances by all the music ensembles. Students who were graduating would be recognized by the band, chorus, and orchestra teachers. Mr. Bunting had a tradition of giving all graduating choir members a dime, encouraging them to call him to share good news or to ask for assistance. At my final concert before I left to be an exchange student, Mr. Bunting gave me a quarter instead of a dime.
You’re going to be a long way from home. It might take more than a dime to call.
Last year, when I was preparing to return to Australia, Mr. and Mrs. Bunting surprised me with a generous gift of support and a lovely note of encouragement. They told me I did not need to write a thank you post in their honor; reading of my adventures would be thanks enough. Of course, I asked them again before writing this post.
It certainly isn’t necessary for you to do anything, but if it is your wish we’d be happy to participate!
Mr. and Mrs. Bunting – you have served as examples of community engagement and faith in action for many of us who were fortunate enough to grace your classrooms. You taught us to use our talents to bring joy to others, and to have fun ourselves in the process. You served as examples of accepting praise with humility. The care and concern you shared with all of us helped us realize we could always find support back “home” even when we left to make our way in the world. I am grateful to continue to have your wisdom and guidance, and appreciate your belief in my abilities to impact others in a positive way.