Take A Hike, Mr. D

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” -Henry David Thoreau

“A basic element of the American Dream is equal access to education as the lubricant of social and economic mobility.” -Nicholas Kristof

As I write this post I am three days away from the start of my long anticipated adventure. I am fully prepared and the moment cannot come soon enough. My gear is purchased and packed and I have poured over numerous Appalachian Trail memoirs, guidebooks, and blog posts. I’ve hiked over 300 miles in preparation and funds have already begun pouring in from generous donors who see the value of a Logos education. In three days time, I will be standing atop Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, ready to begin what I have long set out to do. As I stand on the precipice of my adventure, I reflect back on the school year, looking to take the values that I have learned from my students with me on my journey.

In the United States of America, we as citizens, pride ourselves on being able to provide a quality education for all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender. Sadly, this vision of the American educational system is merely a dream. The reality is that the quality of education a student receives depends largely on geography. For families of lower socioeconomic status, the possibility of living in a higher income community, and sending their children to a school with an established track record of high academic excellence is all too often impossible. How can we as Americans, who boast of a quality education for all, continue to uphold and perpetuate this system of inequality? A gap exists between the perceived state of the American educational system and the reality that exists in the lives of American children. And for this reason, I feel called to teach at Logos Academy, a vibrant learning community that is dedicated to providing a high-quality education regardless of a family’s economic status.

A Logos education, however, does not come cheaply. Every year, Logos Academy raises thousands of dollars of scholarships so that all students in the York community can be given a quality education. And for this reason, I am asking you to support the children of York, in giving funds to provide scholarship opportunities, as I hike the southern half of the Appalachian Trail. Every day this school year, I have had the privilege of guiding my students as they exercise their God-given curiosity in the pursuit of knowledge, despite numerous obstacles that society places in their way. Through my students, I have learned perseverance, dedication, and patience, and these values will serve me well this summer as I set off to hike 1100 miles on the Appalachian Trail from Springer
Mountain, Georgia to the Pennsylvania/Maryland border.

~ Jonathan Desmarais, Upper School Teacher

Meet Mr. D: NoBo4Logos

Jonathan Desmarais, Upper School teacher, is embarking on a second summer of hiking the Appalachian Trail!

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, 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. For the past two years, I have had the privilege to design 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, Citizen: An American Lyric 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? In the fall of 2016, I hiked 199 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the state of PA and through this, I fell in love with the Appalachian Trail, its history, and its culture. As I hiked, I came to realize that I had the opportunity to combine two of my passions: teaching my students at Logos and hiking.

Last summer, I embarked on something that I had never done before. I hiked 832.1 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from the trail’s southern terminus, Springer Mountain in Georgia, to the Tye River in Virginia. In the process, I hiked through four states, wore out two pairs of shoes, wore and lost three pairs of sunglasses, and ate way too many Snickers bars. Prior to this journey, the longest backpacking trip I had ever done was a 3.5 day, 74 mile hike of the Ocala National Forest in Florida. Needless to say, my 61 day hike through the southern Appalachian mountains taught me many things about life and about myself.

I overcame many personal fears. Overcoming fear happens quickly when you encounter a total of 13 bears! I met and developed relationships with other hikes from around the United States and the world. But more importantly, I was able to experience and fully immerse myself in the beauty of God’s creation, while sharing the Logos story.

As I set out again this summer on the Appalachian Trail, hiking from the Delaware Water Gap, on the PA/NJ border, to Hanover, NH, I hope to take my students’ stories with me, sharing and representing the vibrant learning community known as Logos Academy.


“So It Goes”

Join Mr.D as he takes this journey. Stay tuned for ways you can support and encourage Mr.D during NoBo4Logos.

If you would like to make a donation, please click the button below and indicate #NoBo4Logos on the giving page.

GIVE to Logos

Translate »