In Tribute to a Humble Legend…..Thank You Devon!

Over the weekend I discovered with sadness that my favorite English teacher from high school had passed away.

Devon Schrock was a staple in my Christian high school for many years (the school has a long standing tradition of allowing students to call their teachers by their first names). My sisters had him, my cousins had him and one of my aunts had him. He taught students in junior and senior year. His senior year class was most memorable for a research paper that he required. A 40-page behemoth on any given topic. Now, to aid his students, Devon taught you how to do each step. In turn, he prepared his senior class for their next adventure; college.

Former student Jeremy Friesen had this to say about Devon:

“To this day I maintain that my English classes were the most important class(es) for my career as a software engineer. (Devon) was an exacting teacher. He taught me the power of words. That precision in language is so very important if I hope to convey both meaning and intention. Each word, sentence, and paragraph on the page was my thoughts made manifest. I was the owner and subject to the scrutinizing red pen.

Just this past year, I stumbled upon my Senior Thesis, an essay on the Lord of the Rings and its Christian symbolism. I read through it. I realized I had never taken the time to re-read that paper; At several points my words were jumbled and unclear. And Devon rightly marked up that paper.

I’ve since discarded that paper, though I find myself hoping the disposal of it was just a dream. Because I believe, if I were to re-read that poor handwriting, I could conjure the voice of a most gifted teacher.”

Devon was a pretty hard grader, and rarely gave extra credit. My junior year I remember we watched the movie, Roots. At one point in the film, a slave runs away from his master’s plantation. When he is captured, his master cuts off his toes so he can’t run away again. Our assignment was to write a one page (It may have been two) paper on if we had been the slave master what we would have done to keep our slaves from running away.

I thought it over for a minute, and then began to write a one (maybe two) page essay on why I couldn’t answer the question because as a Christian, we are not to own people as property.

If this was some sort of moral test, I was gonna pass it!

I ended up turning in the paper a day late. As was Devon’s policy, late papers were always marked down a few points. So it came as a shock when I got my paper back after it had been graded and it showed 3 EXTRA CREDIT points!! (Keep in mind, Devon seldom gave extra credit).

Now, I tend to be too honest for my own good. I always have been. Eh, for the most part ;-). But that day I was especially honest because I went up to Devon’s desk and reluctantly told him that my paper had been a day late.

I’ll never forget the look on his face. It completely fell and he sighed deeply and said, “Ah, I wish you hadn’t said that!” He then took out a pen and made a mark. Striking out one of the three extra credit points. Leaving two. 🙂

It wasn’t just rare moments of extra credit grace that made Devon so memorable. It was also his sense of humor, sharp wit, and his love for Jesus.

Every Monday at the start of each class, Devon would preach a sermon. Something short, sweet and to the point. Extolling the virtues of daily Bible reading and prayer. Then he’d lead us all in a prayer.

Sometimes during this sermon, it being Monday and all, especially if you had him early in the morning, a few unlucky souls would fall asleep. Devon would then casually, while still preaching, walk over to a glass of water on the bookshelf, walk it slowly over to the unsuspecting victim, and slowly pour it over their head until they awoke.

There’s a legendary story where the water in question once came from a nearby pond. 😛

Then there was the time in the late 70’s that he predicted a time when, due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, we would develop huge butts to cope with sitting all day.

I suppose he was a bit of a psychic. 😀

So thanks for the lessons and memories, Devon. Rest well and we’ll see you on the other side.