Mr. Horn’s Life of Learning at Jesuit
Alex Llerena ’17
Mr. Horn, a mathematics instructor here at Strake Jesuit, will be retiring at the end of the school year. As he finishes off his tenure this school year, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding his experiences here.
Mr. Horn has worked at Strake Jesuit since 1982, taking a sabbatical during the 2011-2012 school year. He told me he worked 15 years prior to coming to teach here at Strake Jesuit. Of those 15 years, he spent three teaching at his alma mater in Rochester, New York, followed by a year teaching in Houston at Sharpstown Middle School, and another 11 years teaching at department of defense schools in Germany and Turkey.
Mr. Horn talked about how different the campus was when he first came here to teach. He said, “Obviously, there have been huge changes to the campus. The school enrollment has gone from probably fewer than 600 when I first got here to nearly 1000 today. 20 years ago, I knew almost all the students and all the faculty. Today, I know maybe a third of the students and there a lot of faculty whom I really don’t know well at all.”
During his time teaching, Mr. Horn has taught everything from Algebra 1 to Calculus, except for Statistics. He told me, “We used to have a course called Introductory Analysis [it is now called AC Pre Cal]. I taught it for years and it was probably my favorite.”
Mr. Horn told me that several teachers inspired him to decide to become a teacher as well. He said, “One in particular was my high school geometry teacher. Another was Fr. Doser a member of the Basilian Fathers [they also run St. Thomas]. He was my swim coach and a math teacher which is exactly what I have been most of my career.” Mr. Horn also talked to me about the impact Jesuit spirituality has had during his tenure here. He explained, “The school environment relative to Jesuit spirituality has had an amazing influence on my own spiritual life. The academic demand has made me a better mathematician. I’m also inspired every day by the people I work with. So many very good and dedicated people make me a better person by their example.”
Mr. Horn talked to me about his most notable experiences here. He said, “Outside the classroom, my most notable memories are about the teams I’ve coached and the student athletes and their families I’ve had the good fortune to know and love. The same is true for the great lifelong friendships I’ve made with other faculty members. I will miss my colleagues and the endeavor we share in every day.” Mr. Horn also told me about his perspective on teaching and grading in general. He said, “I love demonstrating mathematics, I love working with kids. I hate grading and grades in general. I wish we all did this just for the love of learning. I was educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph and by the Basilian Fathers. The Basilian motto is ‘Teach me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge’. I believe teaching goodness and discipline are ultimately far more important than whatever academic subject I teach. That principle along with the Jesuit motto ‘AMDG’, for the greater glory of God, far outweigh any academic concerns.”
Although Mr. Horn will be leaving this school year, he plans to continue to engage in several activities; he told me, “My wife and I will retire to our home in Schulenburg, Texas. I hope to teach evening or online classes with Blinn College. They have a campus in Schulenburg.
I love gardening, cooking, kayaking, golf, working on our property, and travelling to visit my kids and their families. I also hope to do some volunteer work. I will keep busy.”
Mr. Horn explained to me what he thinks an effective teacher should be like. He explained, “First, you must be genuine, you can’t pretend to be a different person in the classroom than you are outside of it. Secondly, you must admit to your mistakes and faults. Seeing a teacher make mistakes and learning from them is something that kids need to see and learn from. Thirdly, a good teacher must develop a rapport with his students. He must respect his students and their circumstances. Obviously, a good teacher must be a good disciplinarian, but that can be accomplished without sacrificing the students respect. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a teacher must be patient.” Being a current student of his, I can certainly lay claim to the fact that Mr. Horn demonstrates all of these characteristics in the classroom. He has also provided a very challenging curriculum, while setting aside time to be available outside of class whenever someone needs help. I greatly appreciate his commitment to teaching and wish Mr. Horn the best in his future endeavors. Mr. Horn, you will truly be missed here.