Mike Tetlow Remembered by Thousands as Inspirational Teacher | News

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Mike Tetlow Remembered by Thousands as Inspirational Teacher

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- This week's Teacher of the Week is a tribute to a very special man.

Mike Tetlow taught in the Jacksonville area for more than 20 years.

The St. Paul's Catholic School teacher passed away this weekend. 

Tetlow was paralyzed in a car accident 18 years ago, but those who knew him said he never let limitations affect his teaching. Instead, he was an inspiration to his students.

"He has impacted thousands and thousands of students, both by his teaching and his humor," explained Krissy Thompson, the assistant principal at St. Paul's Catholic School. "But just by the inspiration that he's been and how he has taught and instilled in all students that there is no such thing as limitation. That you can do anything you set your mind to."

First Coast News received dozens of nominations to honor Tetlow as Teacher of the Week.

Because there were so many thoughful notes from students, teachers, parents and friends, we have posted many of them below:

"He was an amazing teacher who inspired his middle school students to reach their full potential and appreciate all of the gifts God had given them."
"I know he is looking down on us now and this recognition would mean the world to our school community, especially during these difficult times."
- Mary

"I am writing to nominate Mike Tetlow as teacher of the week; actually more appropriate would be 'teacher of a lifetime.'"
"I think it is very rare to meet people like Mr. Tetlow. I am honored to have known him & learned from him.
The world has lost an amazing man & one of the most gifted teachers I've ever known. Mr. Tetlow taught with love, dedication & kindness. We, your students learned much beyond the classroom. Your lessons will not be forgotten, we will carry them for life."
"Without this great man's influence on my life, I don't think I would be where I am today. He was more than a teacher to me, he was a role model. He proved that you can overcome life's obstacles and become who and whatever you wanted be. His life is a living monument to that. Even though he was a quadriplegic he lived life to the most, and excelled in everything he did.
"He made each student that he taught feel special and like they are worth something."
"May Mike Tetlow Rest in Peace, and his memory lives on with his students,friends, family, and everyone who meet him and learned something from him."
- Tyler

"He was an amazing man and an amazing teacher."
- Rita

"He was a truly gifted social studies teacher - passionate about his subject and his students. More than that, he was an example of humility and strength. Mr. Tetlow was in a car accident - on his honeymoon no less - that left him paralyzed. He depended on a few student volunteers to help him during lunch every day - setting out his pills and meal for him. He had a way about him that put me, and other students who did this for him, at ease in what might sound like an awkward dynamic. He was grateful and humble in his demeanor. He was tough, but fair, in the classroom. Through his teaching and his example, he taught us a lot about social studies, and about being/doing good."
- Katie

"He was such a kind soul and he always gave the best advice. He has taught me lessons that I have lived by since the four years that I left his middle school class. Although he was disabled physically, he could reach places that I could only dream of. He always saw the good in people and he never gave up on anyone."
- Kaleigh

"He was a teacher, father, husband, lover, leader, CHRIST-BELIEVER, quadriplegic, comedian, and A FIGHTER. Even on your worst days, this man could make you smile. He was paralyzed from the waist down but this is what set him apart from everyone else... He truly did define the odds."
"When I looked at Mr.Tetlow I didn't see a wheel chair... I saw a man with a smile on his face enjoying every second of his life on earth."
- Brooke

"Mr. Tetlow taught both my sons in middle school at  St. Paul's. The are 23 & 27 currently."
"He was caring, excited about teaching and passed that on to each and every student he taught."
"His smile could brighten any room & he would share his love of History, Geography or Religion with any student who came in contact with him.  He was and extraordinary man & teacher.  He will surely be missed.  Heaven has gained a new Angel & Teacher."
- Deb

"He is gone from this world but he will be always in the hearts of his family, friends and students."
- Helen

"Mr. Tetlow... was an awesome teacher who was a shining example to his current students at St. Pauls at the Beach and past students. He also taught for many years before his time at St.Pauls at the Beach at Saint Pauls in Riverside, where he touched the lives of many students there. Though I'm 34 now, and he taught me many years ago, he was a big influence on me and taught me a lot of what I know in Geography and History."
- Paul

"He was one if the best, if not the best, teachers I have ever had and I learned more about history and life in his class than in any other class."
"[He] can smile down from heaven knowing how many of his former students love and miss him."
- Mariel

"He was an inspirational teacher who has touched so many lives through his teaching of history and religion. He did not allow his quadriplegia to hinder him in anything he did. Mr. Tetlow always made us smile, laugh, and truly cared about his students because he believed every one of us was special. Somehow he always was a positive man, despite his condition, which made students aware that happiness can be found anywhere and in any situation. He not only devoted his life to teaching students, but also became a mentor to many. His death this week came as a shock to the community. Even though his body is not here with us anymore, he still lives on in our hearts and teachs us everyday. He has made me the individual I am today through his love and generosity to the community. So please accept this nomination to recognize a man who is able to teach, love, and display such a passion for his students success. Mike Tetlow was the definition of a saintly man!"
- Michelle

"He had a gift and I think he inspired his students to challenge themselves. That inspiration came not only from his straightforward, demanding teaching style, which asked much of his students because he believed we could achieve much, but also from his personal struggles. Mr. Tetlow was quadriplegic. He had some use of his hands and could hold a pen, but needed lots of help around the classroom to conduct day-to-day business. Students volunteered to write on the board and stay after school to help him grade papers and sort through paperwork. He never approached his situation as a disability and so, in our eyes, it never was. For many teachers, it's impossible to command respect from a room of middle schoolers even at the peak of health. But we all respected and loved Mr. Tetlow without a second thought. He could be stern but funny, strict but encouraging. He believed in rewards for hard work and created games and prizes to reinforce his lessons. He is one of the few teachers who taught us not just world history, but also enriched us as people. Education in Jacksonville has suffered a great loss with his passing."
- Caitlin

"I am now currently a senior in college, and I can honestly say, I have not met one teacher who has pushed me harder and demanded more of me than Mr. Tetlow. He has forever changed my life."
- Ali

"He was more then a teacher to me, he was a role model. He didn't just love and care about each of his students but ever single person he met. He expected the best in everyone one and pushed us so we would be the best we could be. I know for a fact that I am a better person today because I had Mr. Tetlow in my life."
"Even though Mr. Tetlow was in such a bad situation he always had a smile on his face. He showed that no matter what happens you are the one to decided if you are going to be happy or sad about it. I am so happy to call him my role model."
"He will be missed by many of the people who's life's he has changed. Not only should he be teacher of the week but in my eye he should be teacher of the year or for life. Mr. Tetlow not once complained about not being about to walk but now without a doubt he is walking now next to his creator in heaven. Rest in Peace Mr. Tetlow."
- Marilyn

"This great teacher impacted the life of thousands. Truly thousands, by showing us what it means to truly live. Check the Mike Tetlow Memorial page, st.paul's community, or his brother a priest in jacksonville."
- Brennan


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