To the editor:
I have known Mr. Roth since sixth grade when he helped launch my scientific career. He supplied planaria (flatworms) so that I could study regeneration for my school science fair project. My next encounter was during my freshman year at Lawrence High School. Mr. Roth allowed me to be one of his teacher's assistants, a position I held throughout high school.
It was not a glamorous job. I cleaned animal cages, fed and watered the animals in his menagerie, and helped prepare the classroom. I also saw Mr. Roth from a different perspective, an opportunity not afforded to all students. He has a gruff exterior, but cares deeply about science and his students. At least those students that try to learn about biology.
During my senior year, members of his advanced biology classes
were rewarded with a trip to Hawaii if we were willing to carry out independent research projects and raise money to help pay for the trip. We collected tons of newspapers and hundreds of pounds of aluminum cans, had numerous bake sales, all in addition to our normal school requirements. He demanded a lot from his students and those willing to learn were rewarded in turn, not necessarily by good grades but through the very valuable lessons we learned about life and hard work.
I also participated in his field trips each summer. We climbed hills, explored caves, hiked for miles across the beautiful Kansas prairies, and learned about nature first hand. My first summer field trip with Mr. Roth and a group of fellow students was to southwestern Kansas in 1975. It was hard, but fun. I was not used to sleeping in a cave, climbing through bat guano, using the outdoors as my bathroom, or eating his concoction known as "campfire stew." However, I survived and went on additional trips each summer.
Mr. Roth is tough, demanding and rigid, but he is also kind, fair, and flexible. I have made my career in science and thank him for the jump-start. I consider him a friend and mentor and deeply respect him and the subject that he taught. Thank you, Mr. Roth!
Fox Chase Cancer Center,