"The day" was decades ago that the man with the proper name of Geoffrey Gordon made his mark on the R-FH academic and sports scene.
He was a larger-than-life, leisure suit-sporting, popular advanced placement history teacher and football coach. No one fell asleep in Gordo's classes. He wouldn't have it. He'd hammer history details into students' heads like a zealous judge filled with compassion and humor. He had a signature dramatic, fun flair in the classroom that left students with an urge to strive for more knowledge and ask more questions.
Call him the Mr. Kotter of AP students.
In fact, if you were fortunate enough to make the grade and get into one of Gordo's classes, you couldn't fall asleep if you tried, nor would you want to. He just had a way with teaching that inspired. He knew each student's personalities and academic weaknesses and strengths. And he paid attention.
There was no skimming over details when it came to a Gordo-graded research paper or proposal for expansion of ideas. It was like reading another paper, knowing you were expected to hone in on each comment with care.
Gordo was smart, enigmatic and good-natured. So, decades ago, when he announced to students of the late 1970s that he would be moving on to another field, they were puzzled but supportive, knowing what Gordo had left them with. Well, he moved on and back to education in another place.
Now, decades later, Gordo has resurfaced in Port Washington as a retiring superintendent. And, by the looks of the attached video, not much about Gordo has changed, except the color of his hair and advancement in the education field.
Well-wishers gathered at the Village Club of Sands Point last week, giving a sweet send-off to Gordon, who is retiring as superintendent of Port Washington Public Schools.
The room was filled with supporters that included current and retired teachers and school board members, volunteers and more. They were there to pay tribute to Gordon for his dedicated service.
Those praising Gordon, spoke of everything from his commitment to putting students first to his days as a semi-pro baseball player — something that was surprising to some in attendance.
Asked later about his ball playing, Gordon, a former Division I athlete at the University of Virginia, said, “I did play with a number of major league players as teammates, including Denny Walling, who played 17 years for the Astros and against some great players like Mike Caldwell of the Brewers, Al Downing of the Dodgers/Yankees, etc.
"I have been close friends with Tommy John of the Yankees for a quarter of a century. So I guess for someone not quite good enough for the major leagues, I was pretty close."
While many of the tributes were moving, there was laughter too, especially during the “roast” portion of the evening, courtesy of Schreiber High School teachers Jeremy Klaff and Petro Macrigiane. The evening also featured a live string quintet, featuring Schreiber students and teacher Anthony Pinelli, Jr.
In lieu of gifts, Gordon requested a donation payable to the Port Washington Education Foundation, towards teacher-student grants, and/or a donation made payable to the PWUFSD, towards a new superintendent's student scholarship for a student who has overcome significant adversity and/or special needs to graduate and attend college.
Surrounded by family and friends, Gordon thanked everyone, and closed out the evening with a letter written by a student, who thanked the superintendent for “making the district a better place for all.”
Take a look at the videos and photos above for a glimpse into R-FH's Gordo then and now. And, good luck from R-FH alumni, Gordo!
Have any fond memories and/or messages for Geoff Gordon? Share them in the comments section below.