So Long, Farewell Mr. Casey

Hedy Gutfreund Staff Writer I have held fire in my hands. I have created silver. I have played with radioactive substances. I have had my brain twisted by space-time paradoxes. I have been convinced that one of my teachers is, indeed, from the future. Anyone who has had the honor of being taught by Mr. Casey in eighth grade science could say any of those things. I sat down with Mr. Casey to talk to him about why he’s leaving for California and what he will miss about Latin. After six years at Latin, he says that he’s “going to San Francisco because San Francisco’s my favorite city, and it’s where I want to live long-term. I’ve lived in Chicago for almost ten years, and I’m just looking forward to the next phase of my life. I want to be a Californian.” Though he will be sorely missed, he says that he will be missing Latin as well. He says, “I’ll miss a lot of things. I’ll miss the kids, and my colleagues, most of all. It’s really nice to work at a school where the English teachers are writers, and the science teachers are scientists or engineers, and the history teachers—like Mr. Wellen—worked in the White House. You know, people are just so passionate about what they teach. And then, like I said, I’ll miss the kids that just are here because they love school. There are a lot of schools where kids don’t like to be at school, and I think that Latin is special because most of the people you talk to love learning.” Finally, I asked him what advice he’d give to his successor. His advice is succinct: “Don’t set off the fire alarm with methane bubbles. And be ready for lots of questions from your students.” These students, Mr. Casey says, are unique to Latin. He says, “Even when I first visited Latin and interviewed, I was really impressed in the classes how students were just constantly raising their hands. And not to ask, ‘Is this going to be on the test? Is this going to be on the quiz?’ but because they wanted to learn. They were curious about learning. And that student mindset has persisted for my whole time here, and it never ceases to amaze me every year that kids just love to learn.” In his time at Latin, he also noted that he has learned to let kids make discoveries on their own, and that adds to the distinctive experience of eighth grade science. Eighth grader Sarie Monieson reflects on her year, saying, “”Even though it was a hard class, Mr. Casey made me love science and I am very glad that we got to have him as a teacher.” If you were not a student in eighth grade at Latin, it’s hard to get a sense of who Mr. Casey really is. When I asked one of my friends if he’d be willing to say something to The Forum about how much he loves Mr. Casey, he responded, “Just ask anyone. Everyone loves him.” And Mr. Casey’s 198 fans on a student-made Facebook fan page say it best.]]>