"Daniel’s interest has continued long after saying good-bye to Mr. Kachulis."

122 South Main St.

Florence, MA. 01062

March 6, 2008


Ms. Leslie Wilson

Principal-JFK Middle School

100 Florence Rd.

Florence, MA. 01062


Dear Ms. Wilson,


  I am the parent of a seventh grader at JFK Middle School in Northampton. I want to share some wonderful experiences that my son had while learning from Mr. Nick Kachulis. I have a specific memory Daniel’s first mention of Mr. Kachulis’ introduction to Greek mythology. For weeks throughout the Fall, my son had passionately been following his baseball hero Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox, and after Boston became the 2007 World Series Champions I was confident that Daniel’s Halloween costume would be related to this theme. He did ultimately don his Mike Lowell shirt and my husband painted on the beard, but along the way, he rather quietly shared that he actually had been contemplating becoming “half-Zeus and half-Poseidon” instead. For me, this was a very clear sign that Mr. Kachulis had the capacity to quickly capture the imagination, mind, and heart of a twelve-year-old boy. I remember thinking to myself that I needed to keep my finger on this pulse, as most times my son needs support to share more details about what he is learning school.

   The depth to which my son was affected by Mr. Kachulis’ passion and knowledge of Greek history and culture was evident throughout the Fall as my son routinely initiated dialogue with family members about what he was learning. This in itself was a gift, as we, as parents, were witness to the transformative quality of a child beginning to assume a more active role in sharing about his learning process. Numerous examples come to mind. I found my son staring out the window one afternoon, thinking while preparing to write a few sentences on his philosophy of life, casually commenting that he couldn’t believe there were people that actually wrote whole books about what they thought of life, citing the works of Plato and Aristotle. Still later, we heard more about the architecture (Parthenon), the language, the history (storytelling that was Daniel’s first exposure to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey), and the music and art of Greece. As parents, we were invited to JFK Middle School, where we witnessed much excitement as many seventh grade students shared their knowledge about these aspects of Greece through models, sculptures and paintings, plays, debates, and for our son, participation in playing Greek music with peers (which was the first time that Daniel had played his saxophone in a less structured setting with peers). Later, Daniel and others were invited, to join Mr. Kachulis’ band comprised of adults for a performance at JFK Middle School. As is true of all education experiences that are valuable and exceptional, Daniel’s interest has continued long after saying good-bye to Mr. Kachulis.  Recently, I shared pictures of a trip to Greece I had taken thirty years ago. Daniel conveyed much knowledge about many of the sites, and there was pride in his awareness that he, in fact, knew more than I did. I wanted to support him by planting a seed that maybe someday our family could share that Greek world by going there together, to which he very honestly responded “I would rather go with Mr. Kachulis!”

    My hope in sharing these memories of one child’s journey through an extraordinary educational experience is to inspire administrators and teachers to be aware of the importance of protecting this program, and to recommend that anyone who has access to funding to consider support of Mr. Kachulis’ program. Mr. Kachulis is an intelligent, generous, empathic, and gentle soul. He is a gifted teacher. It is our responsibility to provide both emotional and financial support so that he is able to continue to work in our schools.




Margot Shinnick