John Andrew Bassier, Ferndale High School, Ferndale, MI
pricks the mind and senses when he
From basic science to advanced biology, Bassier
transforms a concept on a page to one high school students can see, touch and smell.
persuaded admitted arachnophobes to turn a gentler eye toward spiders by writing about their behavior in a journal.
glowed after students who declared, "It can't be done!"
extracted a sheep's brain or crafted a working muscle sarcomere using everyday items.
says all students can learn and makes it a daily priority to hone their observational, reasoning and problem-solving skills.
"Each minute is too precious to waste," he
teaches biology - the study of life - he
also shows students "how to live life at every level," a parent and former colleague says.
He leads a Positive Peer Influence group that helps students learn empathy and compassion and facilitates an annual weekend communications retreat attended by 60 student leaders representing the school's wide racial, ethnic and economic mix.
is reminded daily of the numerous crosses students bear - from serving as primary caretakers to parents to living in severe economic distress.
has coached football and wrestling for 37 years and touts a motto about winners being reliable, responsible and consistent.
In 1994, the wrestling team and parents dubbed him a "Ferndale Treasure."
A student sent a thank you note, 16 years after graduation, and included the book Tuesdays with Morrie , saying Bassier
reminded him of the beloved protagonist.
earned the Daily (Royal Oak, MI ) Tribune's Unsung Hero Award, among others.
bestowed a gift to the campus, turning the high school courtyard into a nature tract with two large ponds and different native tree species.
Referencing Thoreau, Bassier
said, without wilderness, we would be lost.