Pilot killed on his way to Knoxville described as a dedicated teacher

12:16 PM, Jan 6, 2013   |    comments
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There was no doubt in Principal Sheldon Harlan's mind teacher Michael Anders wanted his class to learn Spanish.

However, his students say his lessons went far beyond any textbook.

"He was definitely unique. He told us,' us weird people have to stick together,'"says Clinton County High School Junior Mariah Thompson. "I was different than anyone else, and he was too."

Michael Anders, 58, of Albany, Kentucky was killed after his 1957 Bonanza H-35 crashed into a Florida house.  The crash also took the lives of his two passengers.

Three years ago, Harlan says Clinton County High School was one week from the start of the school year and still in need of a Spanish teacher, when he got a job application from the British Virgin Islands. It was Anders.

The principal says Anders wanted to work in a small town, and was looking for more than his previous part-time position in the Virgin Islands was offering.

"He wasn't the typical country boy like we were used to," recalls Harlan. But Albany, Kentucky soon discovered the passion and verve he would bring to their small town.

Harlan remembers a man who always had a joke to tell.

Anders' official school photo was on display at the high school Saturday as students and colleagues gathered to remember him.

He was pictured grinning in a white button up shirt, complimented by an "M & M" necktie. I was a good example, Harlan says, of how the teacher always "lightened the mood."

However, the principal says Anders was serious about opportunities for his students.

"He hadn't been here more than a couple weeks and he came to me wanting to start a drama club, a chess club," says Harlan. "It was just a blessing for us to have someone that motivated."

Thompson recalls her teacher volunteering to drive school vans and buses so students could get to special events.

"We don't have that anymore," says Thompson.

Harlan says Anders got certified to drive a school bus simply to save the school money and provide more opportunities for his students.

He said when students recently expressed interest in going to a play, the teacher drove the bus on a Saturday, to give them that experience.

"That's the kind of guy he was. It didn't matter what life threw at him. He always landed on his feet," says Harlan.

"He was incredibly intelligent. I think that's what made him so unique. He just thought on a different wave length than everyone else," says Thompson.

Thompson and another student formed a band with their teacher, frequently practicing at his house and even playing a gig.

The school plans to hold a ceremony for Anders next week.

Thompson says she hopes to play 'The Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding, her teacher's favorite song.

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