AP ECONOMICS’ VERY OWN JOHN OSTICK HONORED AFTER 45 YEARS OF SERVICE

After 36 years teaching at Malvern and 45 years teaching in total, Mr. Ostick announced his retirement… but simply can’t leave Malvern. In June, he will complete, as he says, “the final year of his ninth five-year term.” The economics extraordinaire would have been dearly missed, but now students are scrambling to sign up for AP Economics in the fall.

Matt Powers and Luke Gueriera

This article was originally dedicated to Mr. Ostick’s retirement but now serves as a celebration of the dedication he has shown students, past and present.

Mr. Ron Algeo ‘87, Assistant Head of School for Student Leadership, had Ostick as both a teacher and coach when he was a student at Malvern. Algeo touches on an aspect of the Economics teacher that many may not realize, including Ostick himself.

“It’s very impressive for a teacher to have the impact he’s had, for as long as he’s had. Clearly, he’s impacted hundreds, if not thousands of students’ lives and is still such a humble man,” Algeo said. “I know he doesn’t think about the impact he has had on Malvern much and wouldn’t fully understand it, but I hope he has the time and opportunity to reflect.”

Algeo believes Ostick has had such a profound impact because he possesses the two most important skills for an educator: knowledge and passion.

“Here’s a guy that certainly has a crazy amount of knowledge of economics, but the secret sauce for a really good teacher is their passion for the subject matter,” Algeo said. “There is no question he has not lost an ounce of that passion. If anything, it gets ratcheted up each year. He does a great job of keeping guys engaged, even though they may not be passionate about economics, and loves being able to talk to guys about the impact of decisions we make both globally and locally.”

Although Algeo enjoyed Ostick’s class, it was not the class itself that was his greatest memory of his former teacher. This, of course, deals with betting on horse racing.

“During my senior year, Malvern had this great idea to do these class-wide school trips, and they could be anything, I mean anything. I signed up for Mr. Ostick’s trip and the entire thing was based around horse racing,” Algeo said. “We came to school in the morning, and he taught us how to read the newspaper in terms of the split times for horses, so we knew how to bet when we got to Delaware Park. He was basically teaching us how to do our research so that we were well informed when we went to the horse racetrack. He was telling us how you can bet on a horse to win, to place, or bet a trifecta, the whole nine yards. That day, we had an absolute blast.”

Above all, Algeo admires Ostick’s genuine and caring personality. He adds that because Ostick truly doesn’t care what other people think, he serves as a strong role model.

“I don’t know how many other teachers are mimicked as much as Mr. Ostick in the senior skit, but he’s never changed who he was and if anything, he doubled down on it because he isn’t worried about what other people think,” Algeo said. “He always keeps it real and he’ll be honest with you. He cares about the guys, he cares about Malvern Prep, and he wears that on his sleeve.”

When selecting a major for college, many high school students have difficulty because they aren’t sure what career path they want to pursue. Like countless others, Richard Datz Sr., Class of 1993, found it helpful that Ostick encouraged students to continue exploring economics at the next level if they had an initial interest.

“He taught me the fundamentals of economics, in turn directly influencing my decision for a major once I got to college, which ended up being economics,” Datz said.

Although Datz had him for class almost 30 years ago, Ostick hasn’t forgotten Datz, or any of his students for that matter, even their late assignments.

“One time a few years ago, I saw him at a Malvern football game and he had told me I still owed him a paper from class from 30 years ago. Amazing how he remembered,” Datz said.

Datz, as well as many others, do not look over the fact that Ostick has had a serious hand in the formation of the culture and atmosphere of Malvern today.

“Ostick, and a handful of other teachers, have helped create the Malvern atmosphere, traditions, and memorable experiences for generations of students,” Datz said.

Franz Berlacher ’07, remembers the joy he experienced during Ostick’s Economics class. He mentions that one of his distinct memories came when Ostick made his signature reference to The Rolling Stones’ song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” when talking about economics.

“Even now, I constantly sing the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and I will never forget that,” Berlacher said. “He came up with a lot of activities to make learning economics fun and I appreciated that, especially in a subject that can sometimes be a bit dry if a student isn’t particularly interested.”

Berlacher also mentioned that Ostick seemed to never have a bad day and his positive attitude was highly contagious among other students and faculty. 

“He was always happy and in a good mood, telling jokes, giving nicknames, and things of that nature. It is clear that he has a distinctive love for Malvern, so I think a combination of those two is why I think he has built such a great legacy and is highly sought out by many students.”

At Malvern, Berlacher became friends with Ostick’s son, Paul, since they were in the same grade. The two played on the football and basketball teams together, and Berlacher recalls Ostick cheering the Friars on at every game.

Although Berlacher says there are a collection of memories he shared with Ostick, one sticks out and played a vital role in his life.

“We went to Villanova for a day to sit in and learn about the stock market,” Berlacher said. “That day really solidified the path I wanted to take, and after that, I knew I wanted to do something in business. I really enjoyed it and it helped me a lot with my future and deciding what I wanted to do.”

Upper School Science teacher Mr. Stephen Borish ‘10 first met Ostick in a non-traditional manner, but one that makes for a unique story.

“He was the uncle of one of my good friends, Bridget, and she was in my elementary school class growing up,” Borish said. “She loved her uncle and they were very close, so I often saw him at my elementary school or church.”

Over the years, Borish became close to Ostick and his wife, mentioning that they played a key role in his decision to attend Malvern. Since the two lived near each other, Ostick offered to drive Borish to school every morning.

“I remember he would have his coffee, probably be running a little bit late, and would get in the car and listen to NPR. Honestly, it would be dead silent with just the radio playing,” Borish said. “He was always very supportive of me coming to Malvern and I knew he wanted me to come here. I don’t think that I would have come to Malvern unless I had that relationship with him.”

Everyone in the Malvern community is familiar with and admires Ostick’s enthusiasm, however, Borish believes there is a side to Ostick that not many people have experienced.

“He is very relatable, down to earth, and a people person. But at the same time, I think he does have a very quiet side to him that isn’t always clear when you first meet him because he’s so outgoing and shows so much attention to his students. ”

As an educator, Borish has always looked up to Ostick and tries his best to show his students the same passion Ostick does.

“I think one of the most incredible things is that he loves what he does, he loves what he teaches, and he loves interacting with the kids. For me, that’s such an inspiration and it’s something I strive to do,” Borish said. “He’s a really good teacher, a good guy, and he really cares about people.”

Borish expressed his desire to show his appreciation to Ostick and his family for their constant support through the years.

“I’m very grateful for all of the memories that I have with him and his family. I don’t think I would be the person that I am without his support. He has done a lot of things for me and others that he probably has never been recognized for, so I’m grateful,” Borish said.

Tommy Pero ’17 was directly influenced by the vigor and passion of Mr. Ostick’s Economics class, as he is now an economics major at the University of Notre Dame.

“His class was my first real exposure to economics. I came into the course loosely interested in business and money but lacked the academic framework. His class solidified my interest in that field and because of that, I knew exactly what I wanted to do once I got to college,” Pero said.

Ostick’s idioms, acronyms, and hand signals have all been ingrained in Pero’s head, and while some of them make him laugh, others have continued to be useful to this day.

“His phrase, ‘Think like an economist’ is one I come back to a lot because with economics, you can apply it to everyday life and decision making. This is something I often try to do and has been impactful for me,” Pero said. “I remember one day he came in with two sharpies, one represented supply, and the other demand. As he waved his arms everywhere with supply and demand, one of my classmates said, “If there’s ever a fire at Malvern, check Mr. Ostick’s arms with all of the friction he’s creating.”

When asked to sum Mr. Ostick up in a single word Pero faltered to find one, but surmised: 

“I can’t sum him up in one word because nothing can sum him up holistically. One word cannot do this man the justice he deserves. I’ll remember him for the rest of his life, and want to thank him for starting my passion for economics,” Pero said.

From the 80s to now, students are still reaping the benefits of the masterpiece that is Mr. Ostick’s AP Economics course, one of those students being Chris Datz Jr. ‘22, son of Chris Datz Sr. ‘87.

“My first day of class, Mr. Ostick was taking attendance and said my name. He says, ‘I know that name. Did your dad go here?’ I replied, “Yes he did,’ and he then goes, ‘Well you should hold onto that hair because your dad’s got none left.” Datz said. 

To this day, Ostick is still creating the same welcoming and engaging environment to help students learn and grow. Students understand the rigor that comes with Ostick’s course, but students like Datz and many others are always up for the challenge.

“The classroom gives opportunity to have a very open discussion, and listen to everyone’s opinions, but also demands a lot from us to express it through a lot of work outside of the classroom, as he says this is a ‘student-centered course’. In the end, it’s a high demand, high reward environment.” Datz said.

From freshman to seniors, students understand how this man has changed the landscape not only of the economics program at Malvern but the Malvern community as a whole.

“Mr. Ostick is a Malvern icon. Simple. He’s one of those teachers that alumni and present students all know and love, and he’s just a very important man to Malvern. His persistence in helping students and passion for teaching has been the most influential in building his legacy.” Datz said. 

Datz, along with the slew of students that have been educated by Ostick, will always value the lessons learned and they will remain with them hereafter.

“He connects with you not only in the classroom but outside the classroom as well, concerning himself with what’s going in your life and trying to be a friend, which is so much more than what you can ask of from a teacher,” Datz said.

Mr. Richard Roper, who has been teaching at Malvern even longer than Ostick, has spent quality time making memories and learning so much from the economics extraordinaire over the decades. 

“I don’t remember how I first met him, quite frankly, but I knew of him from back in high school when he played varsity basketball. He was a part of a very very strong team at O’Hara. Although our first meeting was not memorable, it was immediately friendly,” Roper said.

Roper, as well as many others, recognize how impactful Ostick has been not only to the Malvern community but specifically to the economics program as a whole.

“Nobody is as immersed in his subject as Mr. Ostick is in Economics, yet it doesn’t consume him. He understands that he wants to stress to a younger generation how important it is to know what a business sense in life is. He has taught me to pay attention to my 401k and what’s going on in reference to economics,” Roper said. “I think he will leave behind this strength, purpose, and enthusiasm for his subject, creating a legacy that will never go away.”

As far as Malvern legends go, both Roper and Ostick have earned a spot in the Malvern Teaching Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t learned important lessons from each other as both educators and people along the way.

“He [Ostick] has always been encouraging me to keep doing what I love and to keep an eye on myself, to make sure that I am healthy intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically,” Roper said. “It’s his immediate, genuine, sincere concern that he has, like Father Duffy did, to make you feel that you’re the most important person in the room, no matter how many people there may be, and how short your conversation might be with him.”

For knowing Ostick as long as he has, Roper knows that behind every good man is an even better woman, which contributes to his successful and happy life massively.

“His wife, Mary Agnes, is equal to him in all things and is the perfect match for him.

When you get both of them together, oh my God, you’re just smiling and laughing the whole time. She’s the same way in her genuine, instant empathy and sympathy for you, whether it’s sympathy because you’re having a great thing and she loves it or immediate sympathy if you’re having difficulty, and you don’t feel like you’re being patronized by her,” Roper said. “The power, the force that they create together is how they’ve raised an incredible family and why they are a joy to be around.”

Mr. Chic Kelly ‘88, an Economics teacher himself, works alongside Ostick in the social studies department and has become great friends with him over the years. The two met in an Accounting class when Kelly was seventeen years old. 

Although Ostick has done an extraordinary job in growing the economics program at Malvern, Kelly believes his impact on the community surpasses the excellence he has achieved in the classroom.

“I think that his contributions as an educator are secondary to his contributions of a transformative figure who helps so many adolescents transform into responsible, caring, young men who appreciate what’s most important in their lives,” Kelly said.

As an Economics teacher, Kelly appreciates Ostick’s drive to educate students on the importance of decision-making in our lives, one which he believes is very beneficial in the long run.

“He’s inspired so many young men to love and to embrace economics, not only as an academic subject but as a lifestyle approach to how you make decisions and how to best evaluate all events, whether it’s domestically, globally, or just in your individual life.”

Additionally, Kelly admires how Ostick carries himself as a man and strives to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

“He’s a tremendous husband, a loving and caring father, and the epitome of a Catholic male. He’s a role model for all of us on how to live our lives,” Kelly said. “I consider Mr. Ostick to be one of the most Christian-like human beings I’ve ever had the honor of meeting in my lifetime.”

Kelly describes Ostick as “the absent-minded professor,” and all AP Economics students, past and present, couldn’t agree more.

“From afar, he always has things hanging out of his pockets, papers hanging out of his bag, and is seven minutes late to everything,” Kelly said. “But, the truth is that he knows where everything is and is extremely organized.”

Now that the Center for Social Impact has been completed, St. Rita’s is no longer the home of teacher offices and lounges. Mr. Bob Colameco, a retired Malvern social studies teacher and now school photographer, spent many years in the historical building with Ostick where they shared countless laughs and created memories.

“We’ve been very good friends because not only did we start working here in 1985, we were also members of the same department, Social Studies,” Colameco said. “We shared the same space in St. Rita’s for 20 years and taught right down the hall from each other. We’re great friends and he and his wife and my wife and I sometimes get together socially.”

Colameco adds that he and Ostick would share their specific expertise and how it related to the other’s subject. As Ostick could tell you, this was an excellent economic decision because the relationship was mutually beneficial.

“He’s helped me a lot as an educator, especially when I taught history for over 20 years and had to cover things like the Great Depression. He would explain the economic history of things and I helped him with the historical end of things. He and I would talk about events like the Great Depression and I really enjoyed those conversations” Colameco said.

One of the things that make Ostick special, according to Colameco, is that he not only has a great knowledge of economics, but he also knows how to teach a very complicated subject so his students will understand it.

“He’s not only a very intelligent person but he’s been teaching that course [AP Economics] for pretty much his entire career. He knows economics inside and out, and he knows how to teach it. That’s something I think people don’t understand. Knowing a topic and being able to teach it are two different things, and John’s really good at not only knowing economics but teaching it as well.”

In addition to having strong relationships with his students, Ostick clearly has a great rapport with his colleagues.

“Mr. Kindon, John, and I started the same year and I think it’s fairly safe to say that Mr. Kindon and I have been carrying him for 35 years,” Colameco said with a smile.

Mr. John Ostick, just unable to tear himself away from Rolling Stones songs, supply and demand hand motions, Wall Street Journal articles, all CAPS early morning emails, and confusion with Google Meet, will remain on the faculty and teach two sections of AP Economics during the 2021-2022 school year. We tried… but we just can’t get rid of him!

Words can’t do Mr. Ostick’s spectacular teaching career justice. The impact he has had on students, past and present, is incomparable. The continuous support in the classroom, on the field, and drive to help students succeed is something that will never be forgotten. 

Mr. Ostick – on behalf of everyone in the Malvern community – thank you.