New Canaan Country School ninth graders offered words of gratitude and touching reminiscences in their 2020 yearbook dedication to two teachers: Grade 4 Teacher John Hastings and Upper School Math Department Chair, Math Teacher, Coach and Advisor Matthew McDonald.
“I was stunned and shocked and delighted,” said Mr. Hastings. “Daisy Fichthorn and Megan Mitchell recorded a lovely video message, which they played for me and well, it’s no surprise to anyone that I got very emotional. I’m still emotional.”
“We loved our fourth grade year with Mr. Hastings,” said Meghan Mitchell of Darien. “Bunny telling us what to do, our crazy mad minutes, and only writing in cursive. Even more important was the fact that Mr. Hastings left a lasting impact on most of the students who passed through his classroom. Whenever we see him in the hallways, he always greets us with a joyful, “Hey!” and proceeds to ask us a question about something we told him at some point that we would never have expected anyone to recall. But he did. There are some teachers with that special touch, and we believe that Mr. Hastings has it.”
“Mr. Hastings just has that effect on people and will leave a lasting impression on us forever,” added Daisy Fichthorn who penned the tribute.
Ninth graders Cece Salvatore and Kate Barnard, both of New Canaan, wrote and recorded the following dedication for Mr. McDonald:
“Five years ago, when Mr. McDonald started his NCCS journey as a fifth-grade apprentice for the class of 2020, he was one of everyone’s favorite apprentices. His second year working at NCCS, he became a full-time math teacher in the Upper School for the eighth and ninth grade. Since then, he has been a key part of our community and has created special bonds with every student, in and outside of his math class,” said Cece.
“He makes math enjoyableby finding funny ways to incorporate his students and their interests into math problems, making his class personal,” noted Kate. “Mr. McDonald is always willing to give up his free time to help us understand concepts we are struggling with. Not only is he a favorite teacher of many, but he has also become a genuine friend to everyone. He has always been there to help, regardless of the problem or the time of day.”
“In addition to being a great math teacher and advisor, Mr. McDonald is the boys’ varsity hockey coach,” added Kate. “Although he is a strict coach, he makes every practice fun and helps all of the boys improve. Mr. McDonald has a great sense of humor, and can always make you laugh, even if you’re having a bad day.”
“It meant so much to be honored by this ninth grade, and by Cece and Kate specifically,” said Mr. McDonald. “I’ve had so many memorable experiences with this group over the past 5 years and it’s heartwarming to know they appreciate our time together as much as I do.”