You’ll never remember the class you don’t skip.
–John Hodgen, Assumption College
This man changed my life. Perhaps introducing him with this quote is unjust, as it’s out of context. And please don’t misunderstand, he wasn’t exactly telling us to skip class. Just to live life. And I’ve always needed someone to tell me these types of things are okay once in a while. I’ve tried to apply this to many aspects of life. “Well, Brett, you won’t remember if you don’t go to this event.” Etc. Etc. Etc. It works well, and results in memories.
More importantly, it was this man and this man alone who catalyzed my belief in myself and my writing. The very first essay I wrote for his English Composition class—as an 18 year old kid, unsure of what college expected of you—helped me get into grad school [as an English Composition major, at that]. A published author himself, he would assign us various exercises and always add the clause at the end of his explanation that if there was something we had to write, something we just needed to get out over the course of the week, we could write that instead. Nevermind the assignment. I get it now, he didn’t care as long as we were writing well and we were writing meaningfully.
I took him up on this offer on more than one occasion. I let him look inside of me with my writing, I held nothing back. He was the last one that would ever judge you, since he always put himself out there in front of us. Everybody trusted him with their writing, and it was amazing to see what he could pull out of all of us.
He is one of the deepest people I have ever met. Rich in life experience, compassionate towards students. He would hold classes so profound that you would literally have your mouth hanging open in disbelief, slowly coming back to Earth and gathering your books together to move on with your day when class was over. But his thoughts, his lessons would stick with you. The most exhilirating storyteller, hands down, that you will ever come across.
He understood the educational gaps in high school. He went back to basics with us, showed us how to analyze syntax, alliteration, all of it. He would put our writing up in front of the class [with our permission, only], and read certain sentences over and over and say “now that’s just good writing.” He made you feel it. Now I can feel good writing.
As I’m sure you’ve been reading, I’ve been reflecting lately. I realized that he planted the seed for me. It started with him.
So, to you John Hodgen. One of the best educators I have ever witnessed. As I promised you just over a year ago, I will dedicate my first book to you even if it takes me 50 more years to get it right.