Meet Mr. D: NoBo4Logos

Jonathan Desmarais, Upper School teacher, is embarking on an adventure this summer. Unlike past summers off from teaching relaxing, reading and traveling, this summer he will spend his summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. How did this become a goal for Mr. D? You are invited to read his story and learn about NoBo4Logos.

Subjects that Mr. D has taught at Logos over the past 5 years:

  • 7th Grade Christian Literature
  • 8th Grade Medieval/Renaissance Literature
  • 9th Grade British Literature
  • 10th Grade Modern World Literature
  • 11th Grade American Literature
  • 12th Multicultural American Literature
  • 7th Grade Logic I, History of Hip-Hop, Chess, and 8th Grade Brain Games

I was born and raised in New Hampshire and attended Messiah College, and graduated in 2007 with a degree in church music. I am a cellist. I began to teach reading at a small private school in Harrisburg, and through that experience, I fell in love with literature through the writings of Kurt Vonnegut. Although not a Christian, he was very committed to the pursuit of social justice and he did so in a very provocative, simple and funny way, which greatly appealed to me. The writing of Kurt Vonnegut spurred my thirst for literature.

While at Messiah, very early on, I lost my faith. Everything that I assumed about Christianity proved to be meaningless and inconsequential. But through that loss of my faith, I started to realize what being a Christian was all about. I truly discovered for the first time what it meant to live out the Gospel and live my life like Christ. Through this life changing time in my life, I realized that I had a deep desire to live my life committed to the pursuit of social justice. It is out of this desire to pursue social justice that I have committed my life as an educator. After teaching at a private school in Harrisburg for four years that was dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty through education I was searching for a school with a similar mission but with a more holistic approach, and this search brought me to find Logos. It is my desire as a teacher at Logos to help shape my students desires to pursue things of beauty, truth, and goodness. I am inspired daily by my students as we encounter and wrestle with challenging literature. Some of my favorite moments as a teacher are when students challenge me in my analysis of literature. This year I had the privilege to create and teach a new course for 12th Grade: Multicultural American Literature. In this class, we discuss challenging topics and issues that we as peacemaker Christians are called to wrestle with: intersectionality, racial and ethnic social consciousness, privilege and power, sexism, racism, ageism,  (and other forms of discrimination), traumatic migration experiences, etc. I have greatly enjoyed reading some challenging literature (Between the World and Me, The Dew Breaker, The Souls of Black Folks, The House on Mango Street, short stories of Sherman Alexie, Passing, The Joy Luck Club) with my 12th Grade students as we have wrestled with these topics. For me, this is what it means to be a Christian, as we pursue peace.

In the past few years, I’ve gone through some very challenging times in my personal life. As I’ve worked through these times, with lots of prayers, and support of friends, I was very intentional about forcing myself to wrestle with my thoughts and hiking provided the perfect opportunity to do so. What else can you do, but think, when you are hiking for 15 hours straight? This past fall I hiked 199 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the state of PA and through this, I have fallen in love with the Appalachian Trail, its history, and its culture. As I have been hiking many miles this past fall I came to realize that I had the opportunity to combine two of my passions: teaching my students at Logos and hiking. This past Christmas break I decided to do a “shakedown” hike to prepare for my upcoming hike. I hiked the entire Ocala National Forest (74 miles) in 3.5 days. This was certainly a challenge but gave me the reassurance that I am up to the challenge of hiking the southern half of the AT (Georgia to PA).

First and foremost, my first goal is to complete the hike that I’m setting out to do: hiking from the southern terminus of the AT (Springer Mountain, Georgia) to the PA/MD border, all 1100 miles. But this is only my first goal. My biggest goal is simply to challenge myself. I have never done anything like this before. To be quite honest, I am afraid. I am fearful of the thought of setting up a tent in the middle of the night during a lightning storm. I am fearful of snake bites. I am fearful of bear attacks. I am fearful of spraining my ankle and being miles away from the nearest town. I am fearful of relying solely on what I carry on my back and being miles away from my loved ones. My hike this summer will certainly have challenges. It will certainly have ups and downs. But I am hoping to overcome these challenges, overcome my fears, and grow (spiritually, physically, and emotionally).

Join Mr.D as he takes this journey. He will be blogging throughout the summer and sharing his stories. He will be taking the lessons his students have taught him about resilience and hope as he walks 1100 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Stay tuned for ways you can support and encourage Mr.D during NoBo4Logos.

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