My friend and colleague, Dana Homo, is retiring this year. Here's the speech I gave yesterday to honor him:
"When I came to Pierre Moran in 1997, I was placed into the ultimate middle school teaching situation. Dana Homo, Dave Walker, Laura Bultemeier and I were a team. We were in a block system then, and we were block 8B. It was amazingly successful, and in no small part it was thanks to Dana’s leadership. It was the only time that it was ever appropriate to call Dana a blockhead.
"Dana is by far the smartest person I know. He exemplifies the idea of lifelong learning. His mastery of the language is second to none and the sheer number of books he has read is beyond compare.
"Dana has been an innovator. His ideas led our block to use the middle school concept to its full advantage. We created interdisciplinary units that involved all four core teachers at the same time. Under Dana’s guidance, our students hunted mammoths and wrote about the experience. He spent hours setting up game tables with prehistoric settings and painted figures that the students then used to simulate a hunt. Using a game system that he devised, our students were part of Pickett’s Charge, both on the Union side as well as the Confederate side. He engaged students and inspired generations of them. I don’t mean that figuratively. He was teaching his third generation of some Elkhart families this year.
"I wouldn’t trade those eight years we were teamed for anything. It was the most rewarding experience of my career. I will forever remember them as the good old days and will probably regale younger teachers for a long time of those days just as Dana always regaled us with tales of the Halcyon Days of Brookdale. I think that I know more about those times now than anyone else who never worked there. He knew he was part of something special when he worked there, and I am thankful that he shared that experience…over and over again.
"What most people don’t realize about Dana is how much he did behind the scenes for Pierre Moran. He served on numerous committees and quite often was the most vocal advocate of not only Pierre Moran’s students but also its staff. He saved us many, many times from unreasonable people trying to do unreasonable things. One of the benefits of his long experience was his ability to recognize old concepts dressed up in new clothes. He would often deconstruct new terminology and buzzwords before the author of the latest educational fad had time to explain it to those of us who hadn’t seen it before. He kept presenters honest with tough questions and preserved the integrity of Pierre Moran’s educational programs.
"I know many of you will miss Dana. I won’t. Because I’ll still see him. We’ll still make our trips to Detroit to see ball games and we’ll still eat at great restaurants together and we’ll still meet in his pole barn to play games together. I only wish I could have granted his one request about my speaking about him today. He asked me to keep it short. Sorry, Dana. This is the best I could do and you deserve no less."