“Jimmy was kind enough to let me work closely with his students. He was a great mentor, a fantastic teacher, and all around great guy. The world needs more folks with Jimmy’s heart to work out in our schools. I’m so sad to hear that he’s gone, but his heartfelt influence is still out there in the world through us to all the lives he touched.”
It is fascinating to watch and learn from interesting people. When I first arrived at Prescott College, I came across a student who was skipping down the sidewalk. Does anyone in the world actually skip rather than walk?! I had to get to know this person because he carried an air of self-confidence and effusive spirit.
I met Jimmy Liptak at George Williams College, located in a Chicago suburb actually named Downers Grove. Jimmy grew up in Cicero, Illinois and he was all Chicago with his semi-Italian accent, love of food, constant deep laughter, and he even took on the great nickname of Cicero. Most important, Jimmy had a fearless sense of service. While in his 20’s, he created a non-profit organization called Horizons to help people with muscular dystrophy and other pervasive health challenges. In his 30’s when I knew him well, Jimmy taught at an “alternative” school where too often, while taking roll, he would learn that half of his students were in jail.
The reason I met Jimmy in grad school was because he had learned one of the best ways to help children was to get them outdoors. He and I attended George Williams College to earn degrees in Environmental Education, and when we interned together at Mount Rainier National Park, he took the “toughest” highschool Youth Conservation Corps in our program under his tutelage and changed their lives using the natural world as his classroom.
All of us have important people who have influenced us and made us better human beings. Who are the people have influenced you the most and why? ~