To my friend and mentor John Helion
A long overdue thank you and congrats,

John,
Dr. Sanford Lopater, someone from my undergrad, one said,
“You’ll be lucky if you have one or two professors
You relate to in college.”
He was right and wrong
He was one,
You were one of the others,
The unmentioned being a spunky Health teacher.

Tonight I drove past your house thinking of old times,
Like Hindu tag and Jack being nimble or late,
Like hanging at the ropes course having deep conversations about PE,
And watching you fall asleep in Denver with a book perfectly perched
On your chest.
Each of those images brought a smile to my face
Because you are the man
Who made whatever I have become happen.
There is something about the way you think,
It’s in its custard of possibility
That has stuck with me all these years.
Whether it was the conversations about teaching up North,
Old ladies doing laps at Columbia, or just your cackle,
All stuck with me with a genius that personifies authenticity
And the true nature of what it means to be a teacher.

Forget all of the professional mumbo jumbo,
ALT-PE, time on task, cross-curricular integration,
Each of those pales in the shadow of who you have been to me,

My teacher.

You taught me how to understand the importance of preparation.
You taught me how to understand there is more to life than the profession.
You taught me what it means to have perspective,
That debate is more than just disagreement, that it’s necessary,
That laughter does not have to be personal,
And that a strength of character is all we really have.

Thank you, my teacher.

So on this night
When I spent too much time at the Side Bar
And made the trip on New and 926 for the who knows what thousandth time,
Thank you, John, for being the teacher than you have been,
I owe you my career.
No go listen to some Clapton,
Start with “Hello, My Old Friend.”

My wife is the best. She puts up with the up and down moodiness that I can spread around in ways that can be most difficult. She has a way of keeping us three boys in check so that the house can stay far away from the frat atmosphere we would allow it to devolve into. My wife is an equal in every way which props me up when I need and knocks me down when I need that as well. I can’t imagine being without her because life is never as good as it is when we are together.

My first experience at James Blair was Pre-Algebra class with Jamal Oweis. I was homework adverse, but never crushed by the first year teacher. Could it have been because I played sports? High school allowed me to know Coach Oweis in the tumultuous times of whatever varsity sports was becoming. Through the madness, he treated me with respect and a careful prodding coaches must use with average kids playing in small ponds. Each year I ask Jamal if he will accept my late homework. He answers, “No,” and adds that he doesn’t want to change the grade. Thanks, Coach…

Thank you to my students who make life interesting. They bring their baggage to school and make me stretch to figure out how I’m going to motivate them to be attentive to the lessons I’m trying to teach them. They have their personalities that rise and fall with the sun and moon and give teenage moods keeping me from being stagnant. They challenge me with questions gathered from lives on the internet and talk from whatever social media they follow. I love their dynamic ways of being because it keeps me thinking young. Thank you to all of my students.

Alvin Cauthorn opened the James Blair gym one day to let people play. I showed up and no one asked me to play. I didn’t know the routine of getting into a game. After sitting for a couple of hours, AC came over and told me I needed to speak up if I wanted to play. He told me what to do and how to do it. That was an important day for me because I didn’t know how to advocate for myself. The next two years on his team would be some of my favorite teams. Thank you, Coach.