Blair hits the physics teacher

Do you love physics? Well, sorry, but no physical laws explain what happened to me in Mr. Renshaw's honors physics class.

Blair hits the physics teacher

It is 1995; I am 16 and in the 11th grade.

As I am getting ready for school, my heart sinks to the bottom of my stomach.

Panic takes over.


My honors physics project is due today, and I completely forgot about it.

We have had months to build our own instrument and prepare a musical performance.

But now there are minutes to figure something out before I need to hop in the car and drive to school.

No shame in good grades

I have always been proud of good grades: A's and B's never made a C.

This honors physics class with Mr. Renshaw is an elective full of overachievers, so I thought I would fit in.

In school, I am not popular.

Afraid to talk to girls.

I usually walk the halls with my head down, hoping not to embarrass myself.

So, getting good grades gave me a kind of anchor.

Learn the material, take the test, and get good grades.

It earns me some self-respect.

But this morning, shame seems unavoidable.

So, I do one of the craziest things I have ever done in school.

I improvise.

cartoon barn with silo

Cup of despair

I go into the pantry and find four rubber bands of various thicknesses.

In the kitchen, I find a plastic cup or bowl that used to contain margarine.

I stretch the rubberbands around the cup and have a hand-held stringed... disaster of an honors physics instrument.

But I have an idea, which will most certainly get me an F.

Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

In the classroom

When I enter the room, I see extravagant musical inventions everywhere.

Students are practicing their pieces.

Others are assembling their tonal creations.

Some even got their instrument ready in the classroom the day before.

I take my seat in the front row with my dinky margarine cup.

Eyes widen all around me, not sure if I am doing some kind of prank or have a death wish.

No one dares to ask.

I feel nothing but fear.

I create enough armpit sweat to drown a small animal.

Class begins.

One by one, Mr. Renshaw picks from the various prodigies to perform their symphonies. The room fills with angelic sounds, soothing rhythms, and precisely tuned instruments that humanity has neither seen nor heard. Months of hard work and practice climaxing into moments of beauty and glory.

Then there is silence.

Mr. Renshaw is standing in front of my desk.

drawing of Ted Renshaw

The performance of shame

Mr. Renshaw is a smiley man with a balding head and thick black eyebrows.

He looks down at my instrument through a broad smile that can only be forced.

"So, B.J., What do you have for us today?"

I clear my throat.

If I do this, I can't hold back.

Here it goes:

"I call my piece Bee Hit the Barn Door."

Pling. Plang. Plong. Plungggg.


Pling. Plang. Plong. Plungggg.


Pling. Plang. Plong. Plungggg.


Pling. Plang. Plong. Plungggg.

SMASH!!!!! [I SLAM the cup down on the desk as loud as I can.]

For an eternity, the room is soundless.

No clapping.

No rustling.

No breathing.

I look up at Mr. Renshaw.

He is calculating his response.

Or is he trying to figure out what just happened?

Oh no, here comes the humiliation.

Then, an explosion.

He begins to laugh.


He can't stop.

I look around. Is this for real?

I have never seen a teacher laugh like this.

Giggles spread through the class.

The tension in the room dissolves.

Something special is happening.

At least to me.

Mr. Renshaw begins to compose himself.

"B.J.," he says with his massive smile, "That was incredibly funny... You get a B."

Blair as a bee hits Mr Renshaw

Not an equal and opposite reaction

I am in utter shock on multiple levels.

Firstly, not only did the bee hit the barn door, but I ran smack dab into the unparalleled kindness I never knew:

Blair hit the physics teacher.

Secondly, his reaction was not equal and opposite. He deserved to humiliate me.

But he didn't.

And I feel something  shy kids like me rarely experience:


Thirdly, why did he give me a grade in front of the whole class?

He didn't do that with anyone else?

Wait a second...Now I get it.

He gave me a "B" (like the Bee).

Mr. Renshaw was improvising, too.

I am sure some of the kids thought this was unfair after all their hard work, but I never heard any of them complain.

Maybe they realized, like my kind physics teacher Mr. Renshaw, that sometimes hard work and practice are not always necessary to make something beautiful.

Sometimes "B"-eauty can be found in a kid that finds the courage to improvise.


This story has become one my kids love to hear. I decided one day to reach out to that teacher to let him know how he blessed me and to corroborate our stories. (I am sure I have embellished something, but not sure what.)

I first had to find out his name, which I quickly found on Google somehow: Ted Renshaw. Not surprisingly, Mr. Renshaw won Teacher of the Year in 2002 in the Lewisville ISD. Sadly, he passed away in 2021.

As I mentioned in the story, for the last 28 years, I was puzzled about:

Why did Mr. Renshaw grade me on the spot?

I was so shocked by his laughing response that I didn't question it. But I always included it in my retelling. But, that was such an unfair thing to do to the students who earned a B; until I started writing the story and discovered the hidden surprise. I always visualized a bee while telling the story. I never connected it with the letter "B". God must have shrouded my thinking.

While researching, one thing that didn't surprise me was that his son went to a Christian college and became a pastor. I couldn't find anything about Ted Renshaw's faith, but we know apples don't fall far from the tree. Too bad I didn't become friends with his son.

In any case, isn't that how Jesus would have reacted to a shy teenage boy risking complete humiliation?

I wasn't a Christian in high school, but as a Christian now, Ted Renshaw's Spirit-filled reaction to me will live on in my family's legacy as a testimony to Jesus for generations to come, I hope.

Looking forward to seeing you again, Mr. Renshaw.


Do you have a fun story that you would like your great-grandchildren to share about you?