Evoy as a teacher inspired former student from Albion

Posted 28 June 2016 at 12:00 am


I wanted to thank the Orleans Hub for your coverage of Mr. Evoy. I’m an Albion High School alumnus from class of ’94 now living and working in Tokyo, Japan.

Mr. Evoy was my social studies teacher senior year, I believe it was. This would have been when he was in his late 20s. My younger sister also had him for Social Studies. My mom, still living in Albion, forwarded the sad news this weekend. It is a tragedy indeed to hear of Mr. Evoy’s passing and it stirred some memories of my interaction with him.

A story about Mr. Evoy:

Mr. Evoy and I started off in a bit of an adversarial relationship around 1993-94 when we met. I was a bit of an instigator in high school, though I was a high honor roll student. In my senior year we had to write a long essay for social studies. I ended up writing a 42-page essay on government corruption. Mr. Evoy gave me a B+ on it. I remember going to his room after school and challenging him on my grade.

I contended he gave me a B+ because he didn’t agree with my paper, not because of the merit of the paper itself – the time spent, the citations, etc. I asked him how long his Master’s thesis was, and I think he answered, perhaps, 20 something pages – it as a number a bit below my figure.

Surprisingly, after some discussion he agreed I was right about his being biased, and he asked me what grade I thought I deserved. I wasn’t expecting him to actually admit bias, so I replied that an A-minus would be sufficient. I felt at the time it was a symbolic victory, but later realized it probably didn’t really matter. Perhaps he was just being kind by changing my grade, but I was struck by his integrity.

Mr. Evoy later asked me if I’d like to join Mock Trial. He was leading the team. I suspect he thought that my spunky attitude might be constructively used there. I ended up joining Mock Trial and we competed in the Orleans County Courthouse. I ended up really liking Mr. Evoy over the course of that. He turned me from an adversary into a team mate!

Even with a somewhat difficult student like me, that he could have easily dismissed, he found a way to turn it in a positive direction and open up an opportunity for me to no benefit of his own. It’s quite remarkable.

I’m happy to say I went back to the school and visited him again after I finished college and got married, in about 2003, and introduced my wife to him. He was working in the middle school at that time. Mr. Evoy was a lefty, politically speaking, and at the time I was a righty, but now, 13 years later, I’m a lefty, like he was. I’m sure if I had had the chance to meet him again, we would have finally found common ground after 22 years. I’m sad I’ll never get that chance.

When you’re a teenager, it’s just a different world you’re in. You think you’ve got it figured out, but you don’t. It takes a long time to figure it out. It’s often many years later, as an adult, that you really realize how good some of your teachers were, how amazingly tolerant they were, and how selflessly they afforded opportunities to us.

Goodbye, Mr. Evoy. You will be missed. May you rest in peace.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Joel Beckwith
Tokyo, Japan