By Brad Eisele
Today (Sept. 28) the world lost a wonderful man, a true gentleman and one of the finest teachers I’ve ever met, Mr. John Barrett.
When I think back over my years at Dunmore High School and think of the teachers whom I respected and admired Mr. Barrett was certainly on top of that list. If you were ever fortunate enough to have had him for English class or Speech Composition you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Mr. Barrett commanded his classroom like a field general, and not only did he demand respect, but he earned it. Every student who ever had the privilege to have Mr. Barrett was made not only a better student but a better person. He showed you how having standards, working to achieve them and then to uphold them would not only open doors to greatness but would provide you with having the satisfaction of having earned your success.
A few years after I graduated from DHS a friend and I bumped into Mr. Barret at a football game. He asked what we were up to and what we hoped to achieve for ourselves.
My friend Desiree had told him of her desires to get to Europe. She wanted to visit England and Scotland and to behold all the wonders they possessed. It was without hesitation that Mr. Barret pulled out his wallet and handed her a $20 bill and said “Here is your start up fund.” I wasn’t surprised by his gesture of kindness, because genuine support and kindness were all I ever knew from this wonderful man.
In my high school years Mr. Barrett was extremely supportive and encouraging of my theatrical adventures. He knew I was “different,” but made sure I knew I had his full support in all my endeavors and he praised me for always being me and never being dragged down by those who weren’t mature enough to understand. He always encouraged me to just be myself.
In more recent years I have bumped into Mr. Barrett from time to time at Dunkin Donuts and he would always insist on two things; 1) that I call him John and 2) he paid for my coffee. I also had the honor of introducing this amazing man to my athletes at the gym and my co-workers.
Mr. Barrett would bring his beautiful nieces to class from time to time and I made sure everyone knew how fortunate I was to have learned so much from him. I don’t think he enjoyed the attention but he deserved to be recognized for the difference he made in the lives of many.
One of the final times I saw Mr. Barrett we chatted as we always did and shook hands as we were about to part ways but to both of our surprise after we shook hands I gave him a hug and said “thank you for everything.” I didn’t plan it, I just had the urge to say thanks.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to learn from Mr. Barrett and will forever be grateful I got to let him know how much it meant and to thank him for all his years of support and encouragement.
I was very saddened to learn of my friend John’s passing today. As I sit back and reflect on the day, it now makes sense. Today was a beautiful day as was the spirit of a man who dedicated his life to teaching and helping to shape the futures of many. The sun shown brightly in the sky, just as Mr. Barrett was a beacon of light and strength through all the years I’ve known him. The breeze was a messenger, and with it I could hear all his encouragement once more.
The world indeed lost a wonderful man today. Thank you John, I am forever grateful! Rest well, my friend, you have more than earned it.