Dennis Lindsey is just trying to mold minds when he jumps up from his desk, waves his arms and speaks emphatically about the irony and symbolism in a book or movie.
But he has won fans in the process.
That’s one reason the 38-year Columbus North High School English/Literature teacher was chosen by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. for the 2013 Education Hall of Fame Award.
“He’s the most passionate teacher I’ve ever met,” said senior Sloane Kirsch, who was in Lindsey’s Advanced Placement English class last school year. “When I read a book now, I find myself wondering what Mr. Lindsey would say about it.”
A committee that included a teacher, parent and school board member chose Lindsey, 60, for the annual award.
The nomination form states that the recipient must have made a noteworthy and extraordinary employment contribution to the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
Lindsey’s classroom testifies to his interest in storytelling, art and culture. He dusted off a large cartoon-strip drawing of “Star Wars” characters that a North student drew in 1977 and pinned it on the wall. A poster of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan is positioned next to the door.
The method of teaching that Lindsey uses can be traced to his college years at Indiana University in Bloomington. He said his instructors there emphasized the importance of enthusiasm in communicating layered information to students.
Lindsey said one of the most valuable things he learned was an appreciation for deconstructive criticism, which breaks down films, music and books into parts that can be examined separately. He said he takes pride in teaching students to become intelligent and discerning adults who question what they see and hear.
“When it comes to teaching, you have to do more than know it — you have to feel it,” he said. “I can really get going sometimes.”
Students appreciate his effort.
Senior Chris Diehn, another former Lindsey student, said what separated Lindsey from other teachers is that he makes his students really care about what he teaches.
“He can decode every hand gesture,” Kirsch said.
Diehn said Lindsey is great at getting into the mindset of the author and significance
of the story’s setting, which can lead to a much deeper
understanding of what a book is about.
Diehn also said that when he reads for fun now, he does it on a deeper level. He sometimes even prepares for reading by researching the author or the time period on the Internet.
He said he owes it all to Lindsey.
This was the second straight year an instructor from North’s English department was chosen. Kimberly Stover, who has taught for 30 years, won the award in 2012.
“It says a lot about this department to have two,” said Rick Weinheimer, chairman of the school’s English department.
“Mr. Lindsey is a great teacher. Sometimes I walk by his room and stop in because it’s so interesting to hear him speak.”