I don’t really have a first memory about Mr. Scott. Actually, now that I think about it, when I received my schedule as a freshman, I remember seeing his name on my schedule and thinking to myself wow that’s cool, this guy has two first names as his name! Little did I know what was in store for me ahead.
The first thing that struck me about Mr. Scott was his energy. He didn’t act like an English teacher–his energy matched ours, with an overly positive life outlook, and the ability to make jokes with a frequency that left me in awe. He didn’t dress like an English teacher–his shoes were always brightly colored, and he wasn’t afraid to wear perfectly matched outfits with such color that made flower gardens jealous. He didn’t even teach like an English teacher–his lessons were conversations, and his activities were worthwhile and never a bore.
As time went on in my pivotal freshman year, there were little things about Mr. Scott that brightened my day. His daily quotes on the board every morning, something inspirational, funny, or even relevant to something that we were doing or were about to do. His daily Chicago Cubs update, also on the board, making me smile when I’d see that I’d be able to watch a game that night or that they had won. His handwriting, something that he’d “have made into a font one day” (I actually planned on using some of his writing samples from freshman year to make his handwriting into a font using software that my dad knew of as a present before I graduated in 2019).
I remember how he’d have individual conferences with us in the hallway to discuss the books we were currently reading. My first one that year was Go Set A Watchman, the sequel to the classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Scott had been reading the book as well, and we agreed that although it was an unpopular opinion, the book had a significant purpose in defining the events of its predecessor.
I remember how he’d have students read their writing workshop pieces in front of the class, and how much I learned from other people, and how much I learned from myself and my abilities from these experiences. I shared everything from a personal narrative about personal struggles to a fictional mystery novel that I created with his help. My confidence grew in front of my classmates as I realized how important real stories and real conversations are.
I remember how he’d have us schedule writing conferences, and how each conference was so efficient and useful that I’d be left feeling confident in my own abilities and my creativity.
I remember how he’d make everything relevant to us–who knew Taoism applied to us today–and he’d always find a way to make things more enjoyable. Never did I have to annotate a book in that class, and to be brutally honest, we didn’t read the entirety of The Odyssey.
I remember our vocabulary competitions, which not only brought the class together, but also became a welcome break in the day where we could forget about numbers and paragraphs and learn a myriad of seemingly trivial words that required us to ardently create galvanizing, onerous paragraphs containing copious amounts of the aforementioned words.
I remember how he taught us to write analytical essays, always encouraging us to incorporate personal connections or relevant real world events into our writings about books like The Bible As In Literature or Siddhartha.
I remember how he taught us to never write something without a title: the title is what makes the piece, and the piece wouldn’t be as great of a piece without one.
There were so many memorable things that he said during that first year that my best friend and I wrote them all down as they came:
“Life is real. Get a helmet.”
“I didn’t invent the rainy day. I just happen to have the best umbrella.”
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
“Frosty makes Freshman Hypotheticals.”
“Showing up is a part of growing up.” We all emailed this him after he unexpectedly took a sick day one morning during the spring.
We learned how he got his nickname, Frosty. His mother used to cheer for him at his varsity basketball games during his freshman year by yelling “Go Austy!” and his teammates always thought she was saying “Go Frosty!” The name stuck. There’s a red solo cup on his desk with “Frosty” in big letters, given to him by former student Gracie Stockton, and every time I see it, I remember the story.
He somehow found a way to bring us all together. We were students that came from different middle schools and different social circles, and by the end of the year, we were a unit. By the end of the year, I couldn’t see myself having a different teacher. When I expressed my gratitude and reluctance to leave at the end of the year, I was given advice that I still carry with me today: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. Jump off cliffs and develop wings on the way down.”
What one of the most exciting things about that year, however, was Mr. Scott’s enthusiastic explanation of how he was going to begin to head the school newspaper, The Forest Scout. He showed us the website template, and he told us that we could join the class as juniors and seniors. I remember that my face couldn’t help itself but to break out with a smile–not only would I have the chance to have my favorite teacher again, but I’d be able to take a class that was strictly writing based, and the topics would be of my choosing!
As I moved on to sophomore year, I missed freshman year, but I always held onto that dream of joining journalism and growing as a writer and a person again. In November, my classmates and I received an email encouraging us to keep writing and to consider taking journalism, and when I signed up for my junior year classes, I opted to take journalism instead of taking a study hall. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In these nearly nine months of writing for The Forest Scout, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned how to write while including opinions built off of facts. I’ve learned how to analyze albums, usually with an open notebook and a pencil by my side. I’ve learned how to communicate with people for information, all while dealing with rejection and miscommunication. I learned about the music of Courtney Barnett and Vance Joy. I read legal briefs and lengthy reports. I made more playlists than I’d ever made in my life. I learned how to celebrate people who don’t get the celebration they deserve. I learned how to keep a secret. I learned how to write something that people wouldn’t necessarily agree with. And it was all thanks to Mr. Scott.
Outside of the classroom, Mr. Scott has had an impact on students. At every boys basketball game not only would he be there supporting his team, but he would always thank the band after the game. He’s the type of teacher that I have heard other teachers talk about with admiration, teachers who aren’t even in the same department. Students can’t say enough positive things about his lively attitude and ability to capture his students’ attention and spirit.
When Mr. Scott announced that he had accepted the Head Varsity Basketball coaching and English teacher position at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, I was shocked.
As I later told my family, I always believed that I would be the one to leave Mr. Scott behind, not the other way around.
However, as time went on, I realized that all that I’ve learned throughout my time in English with Mr. Scott has had an immense impact on my life. I’ve become a true writer and a deeper thinker, and I have gained confidence in my ability to share my thoughts and opinions, and how to be vulnerable in front of a group of people. I want other people to have that experience. It’s easy to be selfish, but other students deserve the opportunity to grow and learn from Mr. Scott.
Earlier this year, Mr. Scott said something that I immediately wrote down as a quote: “You gotta adapt, or die.” Little did I know at the time that I’d be writing a tribute using that very quote. Yes, he’s not going to be around next year to help celebrate my victories and help me through my losses. Yes, he’s not going to be around next year when I decide on college and have him be one of the first people I celebrate with. Yes, he’s not going to be around for the football games, the pep rally, or the basketball games. His absence will be noticeable and painful. But if I spend my senior year focusing on the absence of his physical presence, I will miss the opportunity to enjoy everything that I still have in front of me. I will always have the skills, strategies, and life lessons that I learned from him, and I don’t have to let go of those things just because of his absence.
So Mr. “Frosty” Austin Scott, there isn’t much else to say but thank you. Thank you for helping me discover my passions and pushing me to go further. Thank you for making me laugh and think about the world in a different way. Thank you for the stories and the lessons, the ideas and the suggestions. Thanks for the music and the books and the issues and the inspiration. We will miss your insight and your spirit. We will miss your enthusiasm and your laugh. We will miss your smile and your dedication. We will miss you, but we won’t forget all you’ve done for us. We hope you find joy in your new job, and we know that your new students are going to learn so much from you.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I can say for sure that long after both of us are gone from LFHS, I will always remember the moments and the lessons. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.