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Mathematical, spiritual mentor retires

The campus hallways undergo a miraculous change as math teacher Lonnie Godfrey strides through them. Gum chewers hastily swallow the offending wad, hats fly off of heads and all at once everyone is in dress code. One unsuspecting student with his back turned is in for an unpleasant surprise.

“What flavor is it?” Godfrey asks in a resounding boom. The startled student blushes and hastily swallows the offending gum.

“Mr. Godfrey is like a walking gum radar,” Lindsey Martens, ’05, said. “He has the incredible talent of spotting rule-breakers from a mile away. No one would dare to break the rules around him.”

Despite the reputation he has gained for being a strict disciplinarian, Godfrey’s first priority is not handing out a record number of consequences.

“I love being around young people as I teach,” Godfrey said. “I want to give them challenges that are reasonable, but that they will have to work hard to achieve. There is such a satisfaction when kids are able to meet goals that they once thought were impossible.”

Godfrey was born in Gardener, MA, and obtained a B.S. in industrial management, with a minor in mathematics from Georgia Tech. While in school he saw students struggling to pass their basic college math courses.

“About one third of my peers could not pass their math classes because they were severely lacking in math skills,” Godfrey said. “I ended up tutoring a lot of them, and it dawned on me one day that I really enjoyed it.”

He later went on to the University of New Hampshire where he got a master’s degree in math teaching.

“My goal as a teacher is to prepare students for the academic challenges ahead of them,” Godfrey said. “I want them to enter college with a solid background in math.”

Mr. Godfrey began teaching in 1958, though he later took a few years off to pursue missionary work. He has been teaching on campus for 14 years.

“I want to help students overcome the fear of math, the fear of word problems and the fear of failure,” Godfrey said. “So many students are scared of these things. Kids need to realize that their academic talents do not make them who they are.”

Godfrey will be retiring at the end of the year, leaving current math instructor Josh Tosland will take his place as the campus honors math teacher.

Having taught three generations of students, Godfrey has seen all the ups and downs inherent in the job.

“My advice to other teachers is this: be consistent, impartial and available,” Godfrey said. “The important thing is not to be fair, but to be right. I would encourage them not to worry about what others say is fair; do what you know is the right thing.”

“Mr. Godfrey is an amazing math teacher,” Martens said. “He’s sort of a wise guy, always joking around, but he is a solid teacher. He really cares about how you are doing in school, and is willing to work with you and help you do better.”

Godfrey’s influence extends outside the classroom.

“I love Mr. Godfrey’s devotions,” Chris White, ’05, said. “I may not always agree with what he says, but he’s got a lot of wisdom. He never sounds preachy or condescending; he just tells it like it is and doesn’t beat around the bush. I’m really going to miss that next year.”

Godfrey plans to stay busy after he leaves the school. He will be tutoring and teaching business mathematics at Fresno City College.

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  • K

    keoniaAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    We need more brave spirits like that…Woah, go Fresno Christian.

    Yeah, Eagle spirit!