A thank you letter I wrote when I found out Mr. Friedman was leaving Woods.

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Dear Mr. Friedman,

Your intelligence and quickness of thought has always impressed me. Ever since our first discussion, which was enjoyably informal like the rest of them, on the relationship between Pascal’s triangle and the normal distribution curve, I’ve always enjoyed talking to you. Trying to keep up with and predict your thinking has always been challenging and therefore rewarding.

I’d like to thank you for always being open to talking about my various independent projects and questions and your marvelous punctuality with grading. I feel like you’ve always listened to my project’s explanations and demonstrations because you’ve often offered criticisms and more directions I can go with them. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if many of the other people or teachers I’ve told about my projects were listening or understanding because they didn’t offer criticism or suggestions.

So I’d like to thank you for striving to understand what I was saying and not writing me off with a “good job; that’s really cool.” I’d like to thank you for your occasional frivolity in the classroom as it’s something few teachers offer. I’d like to thank you especially for your (from my perspective, at least) well calibrated detector for what topics covered in your courses’ curriculum are BS and which are not, and taking reading into account when assigning work and class time. I’d like to thank you for leading by example and pursuing your own independent interests. And finally, I’d like to thank for talking to me about Catenaries (which I’ve still been thinking about) and trying with me to understand them instead of trying to instruct to me how they work. I’ve particularly enjoyed the conversations we’ve had in which we collaborate to come to an understanding.