My first year at Eastern in the Templeton Honors College is an experience that I will never forget. I was, as many may relate to, very excited and equally terrified of leaving my parents, transitioning into college life, and entering an honors program that would prove to be a big challenge. However, this was a change that I am now immeasurably thankful that I made. I strengthened my faith, made lots of new friends, and grew tremendously in the way that I thought about life and learning. In other words, I had a pretty typical freshman year.
After reading the novel that is Mr. P’s syllabus, I was feeling pretty worried about Old Testament and the way that class would operate. I had read the Bible before, but I never had to discuss it in a formal, seminar-style class. When the first day of class rolled around, I was feeling even more uneasy. All those nerves fizzled away when Mr. P pulled out his pitch pipe, played a crisp B flat, and then led the class in singing Jubilate Deo. As a musical person, this made me feel right at home. We then spent the rest of class discussing our Five Questions and how being wrong is okay. At the end, Mr. P gave us all his signature benediction from Numbers, and I left feeling so much better. Mr. P has a calming and caring presence that is evident throughout every interaction with him.
The way that Mr. P conducts class is formational in the way that Templeton students learn to have good discussions. Our questions and interests brought up by the readings guide the discussion that day. Some of the best memories I have from Freshman year are because of Mr. P’s class. These include the numerous debates, the Gospel Rap videos, and the cathartic 1-on-1 meetings, just to name a few. One of the best memories (that I’m sure everyone in my cohort remembers) is the play. Instead of each student doing a separate final project, Mr. P gave our class the option to do a play: The Journey With Jonah. We worked together as a cohort to cast, direct, act, design costumes, plan a reception, make programs, and run the lights and sound board for this spectacle. And I’m sure everyone would agree that our rendition of The Journey With Jonah would rival any performance at the Globe Theatre. Regardless, the play was just one of many great memories made in Mr. P’s class.
Mr. P’s close and dedicated involvement in Templeton is a tremendous blessing. I lament the future cohorts of the Honors College that will not be graced by the love, care, and wisdom of Mr. P through class, meetings, and everyday interactions. Without him, Templeton will not be the same. Although, perhaps we can make a book study around the many books he will write in retirement.