Severn School teacher makes history Wal-Mart Inc. names him one of nation's top 1,000

September 05, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

An article in yesterday's edition of The Sun in Anne Arundel incorrectly identified John C. Bodley's wife. Her name is Mary Jean Lopardo.

The Sun regrets the error.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

Remember when your history teacher almost bored you to death with a lecture on the period before the American Revolution?

John C. Bodley likes to call that period in American history the "teen-age" years.

"[Teen-agers] are growing and they want to be independent, but they're not sure that they want to be independent," said Bodley, who teaches U.S. history at the Severn School in Severna Park. "The colonies weren't quite sure that they wanted independence from Great Britain, but they wanted to flex their muscles, too."


The ability to relate significant historical events to the lives of his students has earned Bodley rave reviews among his charges. And a major U.S. corporation is recognizing him, too.

Wal-Mart Inc. has selected Bodley as one of 1,000 teachers nationwide to receive the company's teacher of the year award. He received a framed certificate and a $500 check last week.

The recognition has left the 21-year veteran pleased.

"I don't know what to say," said Bodley, who is chairman of the school history department and helps coach the varsity football team. "I feel honored. Surprised and honored."

Bodley was nominated for the award in the spring by Upper School Headmaster Gerard J. P. Connolly.

"One of the things that stands out about John is something he said to me," Connolly recalled. "He said, 'I look forward to every school year.' That's not very common among teachers, and I think the students can pick up that sense."

Fred Daniels, manager of Sam's Club in Annapolis, which gave Bodley the Wal-Mart award, said the clincher was the number of letters he received with the application.

"You could tell that his contribution has been enormous not only DTC to the school, but also to the community," Daniels said. "He's a very exemplary person."

Bodley developed his love of academics while a student at a private academy in Pottstown, Pa. Although he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania as an economics major, Bodley said he gravitated toward U.S. history.

"I liked my history teachers in high school, and I took a couple of history courses in college," he said. "I thought that it would be something that I would want to pursue."

After he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Bodley became a history and economics teacher at Severn School. He believed he would teach there for a few years and then move to a different school. But now he has deeper ties to the school community. He and his wife of 14 years, Sheila, have a daughter, Jacqueline, who is an eighth-grader at Severn.

Leave now? "I can't imagine doing that," he said.

Bodley is not just a student of the past. He has subscriptions to Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and brings to class the business section of a number of newspapers for his students to read. He also has a knack for taking historical events and relating them to contemporary times.

"I want to connect history with events that they can relate to," he said. "History shouldn't be something that's boring. It's exciting, and since I'm excited about it, I hope it'll carry over."

Bodley sets high standards for his students -- homework every night and exams with only short-answer and essay questions on them (no multiple choices).

"They cover everything you ever learned in his class," said senior Colleen Cassidy of the history and economics tests. "You've got to study for them if you want to do well."

But his former pupils said they're glad they took a class with Bodley. "He's just a great guy," said senior Frank Chartier, who got a B from Bodley. "He is my favorite teacher."

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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