On many days you’d walk by and find him sittingat a table with a member of the faculty or staff,checking a tax return before the filing deadline orreviewing a retirement plan.
He shared that love of personal finance withhis students, incorporating those lessons intostatistics classes and, in the last few years of hiscareer, designing a new course in economics andpersonal finance. The class built off the lessonshe was already sharing with faculty, as well asthe personal finance seminars he taught eachspring to members of the sixth form. Years latermany graduates remember those hours with Mikeas some of the most important lessons they gotduring their final weeks at Woodberry.
And you can’t remember Ski withoutremembering his suits. So many suits, in all sortsof styles. Always with shoes, socks, ties, and evena pocket square that matched just so. He was,without a doubt, the best-dressed member ofthe faculty. On warm, sunny days in the fall orspring, and always at graduation, you could counton a straw hat to adorn Mike’s head as he walkedacross campus.
Mike’s wife, Kim, is also an educator, working formany years as a preschool director in Orange. Herstudents and their parents, inevitably, referred toher as Mrs. Ski. The Szydlowski’s t wo sons, Beaton’04 and Kane ’07, are both Woodberry graduates.
The Skis are retiring to Williamsburg. Andas they unpack the boxes in their new home, itseems a sure bet that the moving process will beaccompanied by a cry of “Stank!”
— JACOB GEIGER ’05
I had the perfect title forthis before I began: “TheConsummate School Man!”Except that Ted wouldcringe at such a fusty cliché.
Ted once told his students about tearing up
a perfectly nice thank-you note to his mother
because, he’d realized, it was just so typical. “I
realized that my mother and her gift deserved
better,” he said, and I have never forgotten that line,
which just makes all the abstract literary theory
about the primacy of the audience (whatever that
means) as real as your mom reading a note and
smiling because she’s touched by the words and
not just relieved you remembered your manners.
Writing isn’t easier because you know this, but it
matters a lot more — like all truth-telling matters,
like all relationships of trust matter. It’s serious
business. But it’s also play. “All writing is creative
writing,” Ted likes to tell his students. Give that
topic a whirl. Go ahead and try that crazy strategy.
Explore that angle. But he also taught them, as
Wendell Berry put it, “the difference between
good work and sham.” He taught them to dream