Mr. York–Sarah King

Because I went to a high school for the performing arts, I might be a little biased, but the op-ed piece,”Don’t Turn Away From the Art of Life,” that Dr. Dalton sent really resonated with me. Mostly, it reminded me of my favorite teacher from high school, John York.

Mr. York is easily the best English teacher I have ever had. An accomplished poet, Mr. York has received multiple awards for his writing, including  the title of the prestigious Poet Laureate of North Carolina in 2008. In 2014, during my sophomore year at Wake, The North Carolina Humanities Council’s presented Mr. York with the Linda Flowers Literary Award, which honors a work of original fiction, nonfiction or poetry for outstanding writing about North Carolina. The NC Humanities held an awards ceremony at the Welcome Center here at Wake, and I was honored to attend as one of my favorite teacher’s guests. On the other side of me was Mr. York’s high school English teacher, Hayes McNeill, to whom Mr. York’s essay, “O Beautiful Bug,” was dedicated. Talk about a surreal moment.

The awards ceremony honored many people for their work in the humanities, including “Mr. Wake Forest” himself, Ed Wilson, who received the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities. Wilson delivered a beautiful speech (as always) about the importance of humanities in education, and how they have become secondary in the eyes of the school system. Everyone who spoke in the ceremony passionately talked about the need for teachers who have a love for the humanities in order to best prepare students for successful and fulfilling lives.

In his award-winning essay “O Beautiful Bug,” Mr. York discusses the importance of these teachers when he says,  “Every student in North Carolina needs a Hayes McNeill, a man or woman who sees a child’s potential, who believes in that student’s individual talent and creativity, who hears a gnawing ‘under many concentric layers of woodenness in the dead dry life of society.'”

I would argue that every student, not just those in North Carolina, needs a Mr. York–a teacher who is not only knowledgeable, but passionate about his students and understands the crucial role the humanities play in education and in life. Even though it breaks my heart to know Mr. York will be retiring at the end of this school year, I know his legacy will continue because of the wealth of knowledge and inspiration he has instilled in his students.

(Here a link to his essay, “O Beautiful Bug.” I promise it’s a good read)


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