Mr. Nosky

Mr. Nosky, my junior high, public school, English teacher expected a lot from his classes of 35-40 students. He expected us to write – a lot. We wrote out speeches, book reports, essays and friendly letters.
Ahhh, yes, I had almost forgotten writing a friendly letter with Mr. Nosky.
We had to lay aside our ball point pens and use an old-fashioned fountain pen and unlined paper on top of a page with darkened lines meant to keep our writing in neat lines. Mr. Nosky forbade us to end our letters, “well, I have to go.” Students who failed to bring envelopes and stamps to mail the letters on completion had to buy them from Mr. Nosky. Letters were folded neatly in thirds and inserted into the envelope so that it opened with the top of the page up.
Everything, including friendly letters that we wrote began with a penciled rough draft. He thought we were capable of writing complex sentences and graded accordingly. He was adamant, “if you make a mistake, cross the word out once. Do no scribble over the word. Write a correction beside it.”
Final drafts were written with our fountain pens.
We lived with notebooks, library books and literature texts as well as the mandatory spelling books. He lived with stacks of papers to read and grade. So when he had to supervise study hall, he laid out his rules the first day: “Bring your homework, text books, enough pens, pencils and paper to last and a book to read.” No one slept in his study halls. No one talked. He had too much work of his own to do to tolerate any goofing off from students in his study halls. Mr. Nosky didn’t like unnecessary noise. He liked written words and he expected a high level of achievement from everyone.
My older brother and I endured three years and two years respectively under the man before my parents moved to another state. We secretly mocked subsequent English and literature teachers’ surprise at the level of our abilities to communicate on paper. We told our younger sisters and brother that they were sadly lacking in their education.
Of course, that was back in the era when teachers were still next to God and parents. But it was after the Supreme Court ruled that prayer could not be mandated in schools. Mr. Nosky, a Catholic, never mandated prayers, but one day he told our primarily Protestant class, “I pray for each of your every day.” Writing wasn’t his only concern. He cared about us, too.
I was reminded of him when I went to a Moms In Touch prayers group last week. The open, interdenominational prayer group of mothers with children in school was led by a teaching mom. She wanted to pray with others for her school. When I substituted at the high school, I met other, similarly concerned, teaching parents and non-parents. With praying moms and teachers, like Mr. Nosky, who are concerned and expect the best from their students, any school has a prayer of a chance at succeeding.