Reflecting on Jonathan: Teacher Marty Coyne Remembers

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I consider myself very fortunate to have had the chance to both teach and advise Jonathan two years ago. I had taught and advised Paul seven years earlier and enjoyed the experience and was looking forward to having Jonathan. Both boys had a real interest in history and geography and when that happens, it makes my job more fun than it usually is.

Jonathan had a real interest in the country of Mongolia, much to my surprise. The fact that Jonathan had the interest in Mongolia was surprising to me because I too had that interest. When I was in elementary school, I had a scout leader who was American but she was raised in Mongolia because her parents were Presbyterian missionaries in the country. In fact, Jonathan informed me that one in eight people in the world have traces of Mongolian blood because of the size of Mongolian leader Genghis Khan’s mighty empire! I told Jonathan that I never learned much about Mongolia in school because it was simply a buffer state between the USSR and China. I had to read about the country on my own, like he did.

When my students are working on their color maps, I always try to help them remember the names of the capitals by using subtle humor. Jonathan and I both thought that the capital of Mongolia had a very funny name. We would laugh at the name Ulaanbaatar because of how foreign it sounded to us. Believe me; we would never forget the name.

One day I was researching the capital city of Mongolia and I found a hilarious sketch from “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Johnny Carson was playing his character “The Amazing Kreskin.” The character wore a Swami head piece and he would announce the answer to the question that was inside the envelope before opening it up to read the question. Sidekick Ed McMahon would then repeat Kreskin’s answer for comic relief. In this sketch, Kreskin said “Ulaanbaatar” and of course Ed McMahon repeated it. Once Kreskin opened the envelope, he read the contents: “The sound of Orson Welles’ hat when he sat on it.” I played the video for the children but I had to find an old photograph of Orson Welles so that they would get the joke. The class enjoyed the skit – but not as much as Jonathan and me.

I know that Jonathan is very proud of the work in Mongolia of his family and the doctors who are with them. He is with them in spirit!

-Marty Coyne

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  1. Cathy Soud

     /  July 1, 2012

    Marty, you have been an inspiration to my boys! Paul is a history major because of some great social studies teachers he has had- and you got it all started!!! And Jonathan was a passionate geographer. We love you! Cathy Soud

  2. Cathy Soud

     /  July 1, 2012

    Marty- you inspired a love of social studies in our boys. Paul is a history major because of you and other great teachers he had in the department, and Jonathan was a passionate geographer! We love you! Cathy Soud


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