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In the 1970s right around the time Bruce Springsteen made the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously, I was a high school student. I was in my junior year and limping miserably through an academic career that would make nobody proud – least of all me. My parents were beginning to have doubts too, I’m sure.

Into that intellectual void stepped a man who made a profound impression on me. I continue to rank him as the best and most valuable teacher I ever had. His name is Mark Cohan, and I use the word, “is” intentionally. He is not dead and gone and he is certainly not forgotten. He is alive, vibrant, and still making an impression on me all these years later.

My favorite history teacher, the man who introduced me to publishing as a class project, the one adult who took the time to talk to me as if I had a modicum of potential locked within my addled brain, has written a book. If it is anything like the man who created it, it’s an important book. Buy it. Seriously. Buy it now.

Mark Cohan went on from teaching under-achieving high school students like me to become an administrator, earn his Ph.D, and ultimately be the superintendent of a school system. So I will read, Reflections and Confessions of an Educational Leader with great anticipation. I urge you to read it as well.

This morning I received an e-mail from Mark alerting me to the release of his first book. I suspect this was professional courtesy brought about by the fact that I included Mark in the acknowledgements of my first novel, Burritos and Gasoline. His legend looms that large in my mind. I still feel support and guidance he provided more than 35 years ago. In fact, I still think of him as, Mr. Cohan, not Mark. I may never adjust to calling him by his first name. But I’ll certainly take the lessons I find in his book to heart.

I’ll include a review in this space in the not-too-distant future. Until then I’m just going to bask in the warm memories of my long-ago interactions with a great teacher, a good man, and a talented educator.

Buy the book. Just do it.

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