Lesson Learned

By Chris Story

One day our math teacher simply fell over in class; none of us at first knew what to do.  It quickly became apparent that something was horribly wrong, the paramedics took her to the hospital where it was determined she’d suffered a stroke.  She would go on to make a full recover, however, a substitute teacher would need to complete the second half of the school year in her stead.
His name was Dennis Novak, a retired teacher and local business owner.  I’ll admit right now that algebra was not my favorite subject, but Mr. Novak did a fine job of keeping the class moving forward.
During one particularly difficult quiz, I got up from my seat and approached Mr. Novak’s desk.  He was answering a question for another student on his right, so I waited my turn at his left.  That’s when I noticed the answer key was sitting right there on his desk.  I glanced down, quickly ascertained my error, saw the right answer and then returned to my seat.
A short while later Dennis approached my desk, took out a red marker, placed a large letter F on the top of my page and walked back to his desk.  As you can imagine, I was outraged, this was an unmitigated assault on a perfectly innocent student.
When the bell rang I stepped swiftly to Mr. Novak’s desk and let him know that this was uncalled for and that surely he should reconsider.  Dennis sat quietly looking up at me from his chair, allowing me to vent and whine.
He said, “Are you finished?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“You looked at the answer key and, therefore, you cheated.  You didn’t have to look, you could have done the right thing,” he said.
What was the particular equation or algebraic theory we were studying?  No clue.
The lesson that Dennis Novak taught me that day was much more important.  Even when no one is looking, you have an obligation to do the right thing.
Is Homer doing right by Mr. Novak today?  Will you stand by and do nothing while his family is told by a Homer City Councilman that he should have planned better?
The Bay View Inn is a part of Homer’s colorful and long history; as was Dennis Novak.
It is time for leadership.  We are not talking about defying laws of nature here.  These are laws imposed on the community by man –  thus they can be changed by man.
The Advisory Planning Commission is just that; advisory.  Ok, City Council, you got their advice, now take action.  Do what is right.

Chris Story is a lifelong Alaskan, and broker and owner of Story Real Estate. He is also host of “Alaska Matters Radio,” heard Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on KGTL.

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Posted by on Oct 22nd, 2013 and filed under Point of View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Lesson Learned”

  1. deb says:

    Love it! What a real learning experience and story about a man who meant a lot to our town and people in more than one way… very nice… City Hall are you learning anything??? can you learn anything????

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