It has been said: “If a teacher reaches just one student during his career, he is a success.” By this point in your life, I am sure that you have heard a legend concerning a particular teacher that in some way, shape or form influenced the life of someone else. As a senior at Quinnipiac, I am a double major in both English and Legal Studies, having had numerous teachers in both departments during my time here. I personally never thought that a teacher could do such a thing as, “touch a student” without being hauled off to prison for five to seven years. That was of course until this past fall semester when I was fortunate enough to have been advised by several fellow students to enroll in a class taught by Professor Mark Johnston.
Taking the advice I had been given, I enrolled in not one but two courses that he had been assigned to teach; course titles that I would never have chosen to take without proper motivation. As the courses progressed, I found myself enjoying genres of literature that I would have otherwise found tedious and difficult, anticipated from his raving students of the past. What I did not expect to find was a feeling of enjoyment in each and every class session, not wanting to miss a single moment of his classes in fear that I might miss something humorous or interesting that only he could bring to light.
Professor Johnston is no doubt a fantastic teacher, but on a more personal level, I consider him an even greater person. When anxiously walking into my first class of this young semester, I was greeted with faces of discontent and outright anger. Rumor had spread that Professor Johnston had withdrawn from the class as its instructor and I found myself extremely upset. This feeling of helplessness was only magnified when he entered the classroom without his black leather briefcase followed by another professor. Noticeably upset himself, he addressed the class explaining that he would be unable to teach this class or any other this semester due to some necessary surgery that will require several months of recovery time. He asked that we pay his colleague and friend, that he had chosen to replace him with the same respect that he knew he would receive from us. He provided with an additional apology that addressed the newly realized notion that we would never have the privilege of taking another class of his again. He said his final farewells and walked out the door. My heart broke.
It was not the information that he had taught me that will stand the test of time, God knows I will most likely forget the battles won and lost within Lucan’s Pharsalia, but the greater lesson gained that will never be forgotten is that one can obtain ultimate attention and respect without even asking for it. In a world where we see those in positions of power abusing their rank, it is comforting to find an individual that although he has proven himself worthy of such praise, never demands or expects it. I can only hope to have the ability to apply this new found knowledge in my future as an attorney when addressing a jury. His ability to attain the respect and admiration of all of his students, while possessing the qualities of compassion, understanding and complete support is a combination lacking in this world.
He is an example of what all teachers should strive to be, and I hope for the sake of this institution that he returns in good health in the near future.
As for this individual, I hope that he knows that he has touched at least one student, and that we the senior class of 2004 will never forget what he has given us all. To Professor Mark Johnston, Thank you!