When Hope adjunct professor Susanna Lankheet read in this Hope Forward Blog about retired Professor Bill Moreau and how he can’t seem to retire from giving – she launched into a special kind of Hope Forward giving all her own. The two go way back to high school when Bill Moreau was her English teacher. That’s only the beginning of a touching story about how she ended up following in his footsteps, right up to his former office in Lubbers 312.
Thank you for the feature on Mr. Moreau! He is the reason I am a teacher today—I am living proof that kindness matters.
Bill was my high school English teacher who encouraged us to write, think as we created words on a page, and explore meaning in literature.
He was also funny and charming! No doubt many of my classmates remember him for his sense of humor that won over more than a few grumpy teenagers. I remember him clearly: standing in the halls of Hamilton High greeting us first thing in the morning, present and showing care.
One day an opportunity to write for the Holland Sentinel rolled around for a new student section in the paper. Mr. Moreau asked my friend and me if we were interested, and I said yes.
I said yes to creativity, to taking a chance, to seeing the world in a slightly larger context than from my comfortable perch in Grafschaap, Michigan.
My friends were featured in the Sentinel articles I wrote. We wanted to be artists and individuals—late 90s versions of punk rockers. We hung out at the Park Theatre for alternative night on Saturdays, dancing to the Cure. They had things to say and I wrote about their style. Later, those articles garnered a journalism scholarship to Western Michigan University. I wrote decently because I read a lot, but also because I had an editor. I had Mr. Moreau. I had a person who cared about my mental and emotional mechanics, someone who saw potential in me.
Fast forward: I earned a degree in English after five luxury years on campus, continued to explore spiritual paths, and on graduation began teaching at a community college.
The courses I taught were dual-enrollment so that meant I was in a high school. It felt familiar but more satisfying than my own Hamilton High days. I was the one greeting students, reading over their essays, and asking about their day. I was Mr. Moreau?!
Not quite yet. Mr. Moreau did other things to give back because that is his nature. He’s one of the most humble and approachable people I’ve ever met. Whatever other good stuff he did and does is never shouted to the rooftops.
As a grad student pursuing English, my career horizons expanded, and I accepted a job at Hope teaching gifted middle schoolers for an academic year. Guess who I saw on campus? Guess who was kind, down-to-earth, and walked everywhere? That’s right.
I graduated again, became more deeply invested in Christianity, jumped a few personal hurdles, and was hired as an adjunct professor at Hope teaching Expository Writing. The same course that Mr. Moreau taught! It gets better: because Hope is a generous and thoughtful place, adjuncts are bequeathed offices. I was assigned Lubbers 312.
It brings tears to my eyes thinking about how momentously full circle this is—my office had been Mr. Moreau’s.
I saw him not too long ago delivering campus mail, walking, of course. And I could barely speak as I realized again and again that faith is real, kindness matters, and it’s so amazing.
Some thirty years after high school I continue to be encouraged by Mr. Moreau. He gives his earnings to Hope Forward? Well, I will as well.
Of course Bill can’t be matched in generousness, so the most-kindhearted title will always be his.