A Classroom Dedication for a Dedicated Teacher
For Erin Borger ’99, it was Avon Old Farms, and one teacher in particular, that he credits with changing his life.
“I don’t talk about my college that way,” Borger said. “I talk about Avon that way.”
When Borger arrived on campus in 10th grade, he was in an unfamiliar state and, admittedly, wasn’t the best-behaved kid. That changed after one notorious AOF teacher took Borger under his wing.
“The funny thing is he was never my teacher, I never had him in class,” Borger said. “You became part of his family if you were lucky enough."
That educator was Don Wick, and Borger is just one of many students that can credit Wick with developing him into the man he is today.
Wick and his dog, Buck, were staples on campus through the ’90s into the early 2000s. The mathematics teacher could usually be spotted driving his golf cart to and from his residence behind the Brown House dormitory, with Buck chasing close behind.
“He did so much for us, you just wanted to drop everything and help him when he needed it,” Borger said. And he meant it—Borger recalls more than once having to help clean Buck after he had been sprayed by skunks.
He said that Wick helped teach him things that couldn’t be learned in the classroom.
“He just made you realize there’s always more important things in life than whatever little issue you were dealing with,” Borger said. “He was a guy that was really inspirational.”
Borger eventually went off to college and had recently graduated when he found out about Wick’s death in 2003. He didn’t have the means at the time, but he had it in his mind that he wanted to do something to help preserve Wick’s legacy.
On Monday, June 20, members of faculty and staff, both past and present, joined Borger in the hallway of Jamerson to finally realize Borger's dream of memorializing Don's impact at Avon.
Wick began his time at Avon Old Farms in 1991, and immediately felt at home. His presence on campus was integral to the sense of community AOF is famous for, and the community proved paramount in its importance to him in return.
This much was made clear on Monday during a brief dedication ceremony, in which a plaque was unveiled above the classroom he used to teach in, and several of Wick’s former colleagues shared stories about their time with him.
“Don was a special guy. That was undeniable,” long-time colleague and friend Kevin Driscoll ’72 said on Monday. “This place meant the world to him.”
Head of School Jim Detora said what set Wick apart is how much he truly cared about the boys he was educating.
“I think that’s one of the things that made Don special, and it’s one of the things that makes Avon special,” Detora said.
“He was a friend to the boys, but he was also a great mentor to the faculty,” history teacher Arthur Mehos said.
This point was emphasized by Robert Dowling ’91, who now serves as the school’s provost and head baseball coach.
“When I was a young teacher, Don showed me through his actions that our primary job was to serve the boys,” Dowling said. “He was an unforgettable figure on campus, and left a lifelong impression.”
That lifelong impression will now be enshrined for years to come by the plaque that bears his name, but that’s not all.
Borger and some of his AOF classmates are working to start a scholarship fund in memory of Don Wick.
He said they have already raised more than half of the funds needed to activate the scholarship at $100,000, but still have a long way to go to be able to fund a full scholarship.
For anyone interested in contributing to this campaign, you can email Stephen Kirsche in the Alumni and Development office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view a full photo gallery of the unveiling and dedication ceremony, click the button below: