Faculty of the Issue: Mr. John Ostick


Ben Yankelitis

Economics extraordinaire Mr. John Ostick shares what makes him still interested in teaching after a long and distinguished career.

After more than 30 years of teaching at Malvern, Mr. Ostick remains a favorite of graduates and current students. His passion and excitement for his students have led to Economics becoming a class that most upperclassmen do not miss out on.

When did you start at Malvern?

I hope I can remember… That’s a joke. This is my 30th year at Malvern Prep. I can’t believe it. It’s been a tremendous experience. The teaching profession has everything like a business cycle. Up’s and down’s. I think in teaching, the ups are incredibly rewarding. But the downs become incredibly stressful. I tell young teachers during the down times to think about getting through that because the ups are so great. That’s been true of my whole career at Malvern and all of my 39 years teaching.
Before I was here I was at St. Joe’s Prep as the basketball coach and math teacher. An opportunity arose to come to Malvern in August. Father Duffy, the principal at the time, asked me how I could leave at that time, when school is ready to start. I said, “Father, I understand why as an administrator that would concern you. But I didn’t look for this job. This came my way. For me and my family and what I love doing, I think I should pursue doing it.” He said, “I like that answer.” Father Duffy was a great man and a great leader.

You touched on it with the up’s and down’s, but what has been your favorite part of your job at Malvern?

It’s always been the people. First, my colleagues. There has not been a better group of people for the last thirty years who have been here. People that when you came to “work” were interested in your family and what you were doing. That’s always been the case here at Malvern. It wasn’t work for me. It’s my profession. I love what I’m doing and my colleagues enhance that.
For the students: I feel like I am in Bill Murray’s Groundhog’s Day. I’m always teaching 17 and 18 year olds. The 17 and 18 year old boys I taught in 1987 theoretically are no different than my students now. So, I’m teaching the same group. I’m stuck in Groundhog’s Day and I love it. I teach with a passion and it works a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But whether kids think economics is dull or not, they know I care about what I’m doing, which is a good connector.
The kids here keep me driven. We do a lot of oral presentations. I’ve taught at three schools and some universities, but the kids at Malvern are the best I’ve ever seen. Kids do very well on their feet. It shows a confidence level.
More importantly, I watch Malvern students, all boys, hug, and not feel any kind of weirdness. That speaks volumes to me. There’s something in a Malvern student, that really cares about others. As men, they’re willing to embrace each other. I didn’t see that at other places.

Your students this year put together “Econ” music videos this year and one group actually won a contest. Were you impressed?
All economics teachers love to talk economics. I have a colleague and friend in San Diego who put together a national video competition for AP.
The students have to show they understand the content at a college level. The economic content in these videos is really good. Working as a team to build a product is also very important. The contest also helps me keep seniors engaged in the spring.
We started four years ago and our guy’s thought we would never be able to compete with some of the top videos. I said, “let’s try”.
Alex Tran ‘13 and a few others got the highest Malvern video with “What is Debt?”. They were the pioneers. Last year, we got third place in the national contest. Not that the content changed, but the production improved and teamwork improved.
This year we got number one. It’s been a real nice thing for those guys. They did a great job. It’s called “Fiscal Funk.” The content in the video is superb.