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Mr. Novak: A Television Series
(& A Life in Education)


Chuck Harter and John Taylor


 April 30, 2015

Dr. Lily Eskelsen García
National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290

Dear Dr. Garcia:

    My name is John Taylor. I am a member of the NEA and this week I finish my 52nd year in teaching. I will be 74 when the NEA Convention is held in Orlando.  I would be honored if you have the time to read this letter.  

At its 1964 National Convention the NEA honored both the TV show, Mr. Novak, and its stars, James Franciscus (Mr. Novak) and Dean Jagger with the presentation of a special film that focused on Season One of the show and demonstrated the maturing of Mr. Novak as a first year teacher.  I would greatly appreciate any assistance or guidance you could give me in my effort to access this film,  It is my hope that it can be found  in the NEA archives, restored, converted to DVD, and placed in archives of a film library Where future and current teachers could see it.  The script from this NEA film could be included in the book with comments by you and/or other NEA leaders.  .  I want to include this material in a project dealing with  the perception of the teaching  profession presented by the media. 

What would even be at least as fantastic is for me would be for you have time  to sit with me for 5-10 minutes in Orlando to talk about the project and  how you might be a part by writing a page or two about your story.  For example,  I will have a “Mr. Novak Care Package” for you in Orlando.  If you are interested and have the time,  we would like you to view a few of the episodes and relate them to the real life process of maturing as a teacher. We would also like your recommendation of other key NEA people who might add value to our project, and other super teachers like yourself who might participate.

Your own story as a teacher reminds me of a movie film that I show in my Education Classes when I teach Intro to Ed at Florida state College @ Jacksonville. I am certain you know of or have met Stacey Bass from Salt Lake City and her story which was featured in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Special “Beyond the Blackboard (2011)”.  I have attached an excellent review of the film and also the abstract from a presentation I made at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning three years ago.   This film helps our 3 million strong NEA  membership not only understand the challenges all teachers face, especially first year teachers, but partially tells your story.  My story goes back a few years before you began teaching and is relatively unimportant, but on my web site:
I discuss my first year of teaching in 1963. I have enclosed a copy of the text from this web site.  Also another Mr. Novak friend, Michael Thorp, has shared his first year story which began at the sister school  to John Marshall High School in LA in 1964 where Mr. Novak was filmed.  I have enclosed Thorp’s essay herewith.

From my collection of over 80 Hollywood movies, Brad Cohen of Georgia (Front of the Class (2008)), Ron Clark now in Atlanta (The Ron Clark Story (2010)); Mike Kersjes or his partner Robynn McKinney (A Smile As Big as the Moon (2008)), or famous author, Pat Conroy (Conrack (1974) and The Water is Wide (2006)) are some of the super  teachers I am contacting to write comments and compare a particular episode(s) of Mr. Novak to their film and life story.

My partner, Chuck Harter, and I are not in this venture to make money. Actually we will go thousands of dollars in the hole as we expect to only sell about 200-400 books at $25 soft cover (around 380 pages) including a lot of photos with our royalty being around $4 per copy.  Any royalties I might earn will be donated to a special fund at FSCJ’s Foundation to help some chemistry student in the future to purchase a chemistry book. Our main objective is to put the past on record before we all pass and to stimulate teachers to pressure the release of Mr. Novak on DVD.  The support of the NEA would greatly aid our task. In the credits of all 60 episodes there is a screen of thanks for the technical support and critical review by the NEA.

Sincerely Yours,

John T. Taylor

John T. Taylor
Professor of Chemistry
North Campus
Florida State College @ Jacksonville
4501 Capper Road
Jacksonville, Fl  32218

(904) 614-0531