Teacher of the Issue: Mr. John Bohannon


Mike Harrington

Resident published author and teacher shares his story.

Mr. Bohannon / M. Harrington
Mr. Bohannon / M. Harrington

A man who has worked as a bartender, bookseller, bricklayer, folk singer, and Mister Softee truck driver has opened up to shed light on his past and his thoughts on Malvern’s future.

English teacher Mr. John Bohannon was born in Philadelphia, but his family moved all over when he was little. “I was raised in an Irish-Catholic family with 4 brothers and sisters, and my aunt and my grandmother lived with me as well,” he said.

Following his years at Cardinal O’Hara High School, Bohannon went to the Penn State Honors program.

“After undergraduate, I started teaching, and I went to graduate school at night at West Chester University,” Bohannon said.

Teaching is not the only job that he has ever had.

Bohannon has worked as a bartender, construction worker, bookseller, bricklayer, folk singer, Mister Softee truck driver, advertising copywriter, and more.

“Before teaching at Malvern I was in an advertising agency… I did it for 11 years,” Bohannon said. “Then Fr. Flynn called me and asked if I would ever think of coming back to teaching.”

“My proudest accomplishment at Malvern is whenever I am able to turn a student into a reader.” ”

He jumped on Father Flynn’s offer and ended up coming back to teaching in 2000. Bohannon applied for a teaching job at Malvern while he was working as an advertising copywriter, but did not get the job at first. Three years after sending his application, he got this call from Flynn asking if he was still interested.

Bohannon has been at Malvern for about 16 years, and he has a few things that he loves most about the school.

“Number one, the people I work with – my colleagues, my fellow teachers,” Bohannon said. “Number two, the freedom that teachers have to shape their curriculum.”

However, something in particular makes Bohannon very proud.

“My proudest accomplishment at Malvern is whenever I am able to turn a student into a reader,” Bohannon said.

He thinks that the future of Malvern will have more service-driven projects and an even better service program.

Outside of his role as an English teacher, he has a few hobbies that he likes to spend his time doing— such as reading, painting, and writing.

“I had published a good number of poems and short stories in magazines and journals in the US, UK, and Ireland,” he said. He has published a book – a collection of poems entitled “The Barmaids of Tír na nÓg.”

Bohannon, who plays the guitar and mandolin, has also been a part of several bands.

While some teachers have offices in St. Rita’s or Tolentine, Bohannon’s office is located underneath the stairs at the bottom floor of Carney.

“I had been the moderator of the newspaper, and they had an office in the basement of Tolentine. I had filled it with books and everything else,” Bohannon said. “When I stopped being the newspaper moderator, I had nowhere to put that stuff.”

He describes his use of his current office as just an efficient use of space.

Recently, Bohannon left his long, silvery locks for shorter, cleaner look. Many students were not used to the change and were curious about decision. Bohannon said the haircut was just an “on a whim” type of decision.

Bohannon has helped in a project to put a miniature bookcase right next to Good Counsel Hall and where one of Malvern’s sidewalks abruptly ends.

“The thing at the end of the sidewalk is a free library for anyone… if they want to take and borrow books, little pieces of art, [or] anything,” he said. “If they want to put something in there, they are welcome to do that. It’s a place to share what you like.”

He has also scattered a multitude of little squares of paper that have something cool on them all over campus.

“They are what we are calling ‘guerilla art’. It means that it just appears. When everyone came in on Tuesday morning, hopefully they were surprised by the pictures, poems, and sayings,” Bohannon said. “The idea is to make you smile or laugh or even maybe think.”