Mr. William Hundert was a promising teacher who was quite possibly the next headmaster for St. Benedict’s School for boys. Mr. Hundert taught the classics and served as moderator for the yearly Mr. Julius Cesar competition. On the first day of class, he tells his students that “ Great ambition without contribution is without significance,” taking Shutruk Nakhunte’s life as a virtually unknown conqueror because of his lack of contribution as an example. Upon his arrival at St. Benedict’s, Sedgewick Bell, the son of the senator, showed no interest or care in the classics and preferred to spend his time with other matters. He was a particularly bright student who showed potential for greatness. However; his hesitance to study like the rest of his peers did started to influence his classmates negatively and this is something that Mr. Hundert wanted to prevent from happening. It eventually became evident that Sedgewick had no interest whatsoever in Mr. Hundert’s class but he saw a possibility of greatness in Sedgewick that the other students lacked. The boy’s behavior in class changed when he finally felt someone believe in him and actually care about him like his teacher did.
He became insistent to prove his worth and showed Mr. Hundert that he was right to believe in him the way he did. Of course, Mr. Hundert was excited about the progress he was seeing in Sedgewick and in his students that he felt bad when he saw Sedgewick did not do enough to participate in the Mr. Julius Cesar contest. He then changed the grades he gave Sedgewick, just enough for him to make the cut for the contest instead of his classmate, Martin Blythe. Sedgewick cheats in the competition and Mr. Hundert is forced to throw him a curveball question that he would only know if he had actually been listening in class. Sedgewick loses the competition along with his persistence to study. Years later, Mr. Hundert sees Sedgewick graduate and considers the events in the competition one of his greatest regrets. After the headmaster of St. Benedict’s dies, we see Mr. Hundert’s contributions to the school overlooked as a younger teacher who had befriended him earlier on is given the title of headmaster instead of himself.
For this reason, Mr. Hundert is forced to retire and to leave teaching behind. Sedgewick then invites him to host the rematch of the Mr. Julius Cesar competition 25 years after it was first held, and we see Sedgewick cheating once again. Sedgewick’s real intentions for the rematch are revealed when he tells his former classmates that he is bidding for a seat in the senate. After Mr. Hundert confronts him, he clears his conscience by telling Martin Blythe how he should have been the participant at the contest instead of Sedgewick. The next morning, his students honor him and tell him about the difference he made in their lives. He then goes back to St. Benedict’s only to find Martin Blythe’s son enrolled in his class.
“ In everyone’s life, there’s that one person who makes the difference” – that was the tagline for the movie “ The Emperor’s Club.” As future educators, we all hope to make a difference in the lives of our students and the movie showcased the teacher’s great influence in the lives of his former students. However admirable what Mr. Hundert did when he gave Sedgewick the position for the contest was, I can honestly say that I would have not done the same. I believe in rewarding effort and perseverance, but I believe in fairness and justice above all and it is in my opinion that it was unfair for him to do what he did. I would have given both Martin and Sedgewick a chance to compete, but I never would have excluded Martin in the way Mr. Hundert did. He became so obsessed with changing how Sedgewick was in class that he overlooked the efforts of his other students’, concentrating only making a difference in one child rather than the class as a whole. However, I would have handled his attitude as a grown man in the same way. Outing him will make the miniscule mark of change Mr. Hundert has made in his life even more invaluable than it already is.
As teachers, we must concentrate not only on teaching our subject matter, but also with making sure that what we teach them can also help them in their lives after school. Our responsibility is not only to educate them, but to mold them and make them realize their potential. They are after all, as Socrates said, pregnant with knowledge and ideals, and saying that means that it is our job as educators to help them develop into the great people they all were always born to be. We might not be able to transfer all of our knowledge to all of our students, but believing in their potential to do greater things makes all the difference. I have experienced first-hand the great influence that a teacher has. I had a wonderful teacher in high school who was particularly strict with me compared with the other students in our class.
Before graduation, he told me something that made a difference how I see myself today– that he believes I was born for greater things than I can possibly imagine and that I should not waste my potential for leadership. So, here I am, studying to be a teacher and to be a great leader to try and change other people’s lives in the same way that my teacher did to mine. We take from this movie a lesson inscribed in a plaque on Mr. Hundert’s wall: “ Great ambition and conquest without contribution is without significance.” It does not matter if we reach our goals in life, become the teacher of the year, or the richest man in the world – without making a difference nothing is accomplished and all your endeavors are not worth remembering.