I can’t say that I have a favorite teacher, as I’ve been impacted by numerous amazing educators over the years. However, one individual does come to my mind: Brandon Lamb.

Lamb came to Naches during my sophomore year to take over our school’s drama department. He came to replace the beloved Megan Antles, so it’s safe to say he had big shoes to fill. I believe he has done a wonderful job of filling them.

As students, we nicknamed Mr. Lamb “Blamb.” Think of the little sound effect bubbles in comic books that say things like “Boom” and “Smash,” and you’ll get what we were going for. I have to admit, I instigated this nickname after he gave us his email, which, fittingly, consisted of the first letter of his first name, followed by his last name.

He received this nickname almost immediately upon arrival, but it suits him well. Blamb is a spontaneous, joyful individual who rarely has anything but a smile upon his face.

I participated in many theater productions with Blamb, both as an actor under his direction, and as a student director with his guidance. Blamb was known to burst into song at a moment’s notice. While we then rolled our eyes, it was one of the many things students loved about him. He made rehearsals fun, and he wasn’t afraid to be real with us. He encouraged us to push ourselves harder, and never failed to highlight the ways we had grown.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times we’d start laughing in rehearsals. Rather than get mad at us, he was the first to laugh. Blamb is a child at heart, and he never acted too cool to spend time with a bunch of obnoxious high school kids.

Blamb encouraged me, not only as an actor and director, but also as a person as a whole. He always helped us look at the bright side of things, and saw every mistake as an opportunity to grow. He encouraged me to be more confident in myself, and took the time to become friends with his students. He’d encourage us to get involved and to pursue what makes us happy and what makes us who we are.

Most of all, Blamb instilled in me the importance of the arts. I was already involved with school arts programs before he came, but he made me love them even more. Through Blamb, students were able to be influenced through music, theater, and the special community that exists as you work to bring a production to the public.

The arts are so important in education, as they provide a safe and welcoming place for anyone who chooses to pursue them. Blamb was a safe space in a school full of gossip and anger, and for him I am forever grateful.

Meirabelle Brown is a 2019 graduate of Naches Valley High School who is enrolled at Yakima Valley College.