I received the sad news last week that one of my high school science teachers, David Malcolm, died unexpectedly. He was only 68. I’m glad I was able to attend his retirement party a few years ago, especially since I couldn’t attend his memorial service.
I had Mr. Malcolm for Freshman Science and A.P. Physics at St. Vincent High School. He loved his students and he loved teaching. He didn’t just teach science; he also tried to instill life lessons whenever he could. This would occasionally lead to the “Malcolm rant” where it’s best to put your head down and wait for the storm to pass. I seem to remember him often saying “Life’s not fair.” His tests for Freshman Science were challenging, and he made sure we knew that he didn’t give us our grades but we earned them and all the whining from parents wouldn’t change that.
I always called Mr. Malcolm “Malcolm” because that’s how he referred to himself. My locker was right next to Malcolm’s classroom during my senior year. I was usually at my locker as he was heading into his room every morning and I would greet him with an exuberant, “Morning Malcolm!” and he would grumble back, “Morning Miss Carter.” He wasn’t mean; he just wasn’t a morning person. But he was always willing to help me if I had a physics question before school. He cared that we learned the material so he would work with us to figure out an answer instead of just doing the work for us.
I have one unique memory of Malcolm. After the A.P. Chemistry test, we basically got to play around and do cool science stuff for the last three weeks of the year. Malcolm had a Freshman Science class across the hall during the same period as A.P. Chemistry. I remember one morning his classroom door and the chemistry room door were open. I sat on the floor and scooted across the hall until I was sitting in his doorway and watched him teach, at least until he caught me and sent me back. He understood and respected teenage playfulness.
Thanks for the memories Malcolm! I’m sorry we had so little time with you. In your words, “God bless.” Your family is in my thoughts.
Photo courtesy of St. Vincent High School