Office Depot: Real Change Project (My Tribute to a Teacher Who Made a Difference in My Life)

I don’t think I’ve been more excited to write a post then I have been to write this one. With Teacher Appreciation week coming up I can’t help but reflect on the teachers who have made a difference in my life. This June will be 20 years since I’ve graduated high school and I have to say it was some of the best years of my life. I grew up in a Christian home and went to Christian School from grades 5-12 and I wound up spending those years with a lot of the same kids, day in and day out. The school was pretty small (2 grades per section) and we became like family. And what’s a family without a father……..or in the Class of ’93’s case, an uncle as we so freshly referred to our favorite teacher, Uncle John.

Mr. Contes Then
Mr. Contes “Uncle John” Then

When I was in 7th grade I met a teacher who became a mentor to me and who impacted my life probably in more ways than he knows. He started out as my history teacher and continued on as my history and bible teacher throughout my high school years. He was that person you could go to and talk to about anything and he would always give you wise, Godly advice and he wasn’t afraid to tell you like it was. No sugar coating with this guy. I forget what grade it was but during Bible class he had us keep these Bible journals where we could write whatever we wanted and he would comment on them. I’m SURE that most of mine consisted of my insecurities, my relationship (or lack thereof) drama, friendship dilemmas. One thing he said to me that I have never forgotten and that I’ve reminded myself of many, many times was this:

If God wanted 2 of (insert the name of a person who you may be comparing yourself to), He would have made two but He didn’t. He wanted one of you and one of her.

Such a simple statement but one that has stayed with me.

I could seriously go on and on about “Uncle John”. And I know that he didn’t just impact me but there are hundreds (probably thousands now) of students whose lives he affected. Not only was he an amazing teacher (and friend) but he set such a wonderful example of what a Godly husband and father should be.

So, Mr. Contes, thanks for being there for me during my teenage years. I could not have gotten through high school without you. Your rewards in Heaven will be great. 🙂

One of my sisters is fortunate enough to be teaching with Uncle John at the school we graduated from and I had her snap this photo of him during class today.

Mr. Contest NOW
Mr. Contes NOW

 I can’t write a post about teachers without mentioning a few others who made a difference in my life:

Mrs. Holzknecht – my math teacher who was so patient and worked with my class over and over on the same thing until we got it.

Mr. Schrage – my English teacher who made English fun by making up weird words and definitions and who made faces while he taught.

Teachers are so important in the lives of so many and Office Depot recognizes just how much they give of themselves so they have launched their Real Change Project in conjunction with

Here are some things that you probably didn’t know about teachers:

  • $1,000: Out-of-pocket amount spent by the average teacher each year on essential classroom supplies
  • 92%: Percentage of teachers who report spending their own money on classroom supplies
  • $1.3 billion: Total out-of-pocket amount spent nationally by teachers on classroom supplies each year

If you are a teacher (or if you know one – please pass this info on) please register your classroom today with to participate in the REAL Change Project and be eligible for funding from donors nationwide. 100% of donations goes directly to teachers, so they don’t have to spend their own money on supplies. Even if you are NOT a teacher, you can still donate. Go HERE to sign up and for more details.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Similar Posts


  1. Mark Muller says:

    I remember being in room 201 in Mr. Contes class. Not sure what class, I wasn’t paying attention anyway. Kris A was sitting directly next to contes and was making us across the room laugh. Contes couldn’t see him because he was right next to him. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Mr Contes stopped the class instruction and demanded, in true contes fashion, to know what I was laughing at so that he can also laugh with me. He was begging me to please tell him. “Please Mark, I want to laugh with you. ”
    Mr Contes is one of the most patient human beings around. If I were him I would have gotten up and slapped me in the mouth.

    1. Katie Landry says:

      I can totally hear him saying this!! Love it!

  2. What a great post Diana! I was a year behind you and my class must have been even more fresh because we just referred to Mr. Contes as the “Greek” … 19 years later MY kids are going to SCS and are blessed to have Mr. C. as their Dean of students. I continue to be surprised when most people refer to their “dreaded high school years.” I couldn’t feel more differently! I loved every minute of high school largely because of the family atmosphere that was created and fostered by Mr. C and the rest of the faculty. I grew up in a divorced home so Godly role models were especially important. The education, support and guidance I received has never been forgotten. There’s a song that we sang in chorus back then that still rings so true: “Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed” … Thanks, Mr. C. , Mr. Schrage, Mrs. H (and the list goes on …) I am a life that was changed.

  3. Stephanie Hearing Kutterer says:

    I am so excited to see this post! Since I left SCS after grade 10 and later moved out of state, I often wondered what happened to Mr. Contes and even tried to find him on FB. When I was going through a particularly rough time at home as a teen, he invited to spend an evening in his home with his family. I will never forget what an impact he and his family had on me. He truly was an inspiring teacher/person/Christian/father/husband -and I count myself blessed to have known him. I remember the way he praised the Lord in worship services, with his arms way outstretched and the worship coming straight from his heart. I love this man. 🙂

  4. Heather Wolynic says:

    I think this is a wonderful idea! Mr.Contes was an amazing teacher that loved his students dearly. I was from the first graduating class at SCS 1991. I am a teacher now myself so I can appreciate all that Mr.Contes did for us. He always had a great sense of humor. One memory that stands out to me was in History class I believe when Mr.Contes had reached his breaking points with Kari and I. Our antics and nonsense had made it near impossible for us to teach and he threatened to put us in Paces LOL. I remember another time that our class thought it would be funny to hide on Mr.Contes so we hid in the baptismal tank from him right before class started. All in all he put up with a lot! Maybe thats why his hair is white now! We love you Mr.Contes

    1. Katie Landry says:

      Oh my gosh- Heather! The baptism tank!! Paces! I remember it like it was yesterday!! How did the teachers stand it??? Miss those days!

  5. Great post! I’m certainly passing this information on. My father has been a Christian School math and math related science teacher for 35 years at the same school. So many teachers impacted my life but none the way he has 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Truly an amazing teacher!!!! His nickname Uncle John says it all – he cared about each student beyond the content of the classroom! No matter what subject, textbook, or chapter, his lessons were always about something much deeper. He took the time to teach us all about the truly important things in life…faith, hope, discernment, perspective, thankfulness, humility, and a bit of humor to go with it all! All these years later, folded in the pages of my Bible I still have the contract with God we wrote up in our Senior bible class : ) He taught us how to take old school notes in outline form; a skill that proved very useful in college. I remember always over thinking his true and false questions (which was always the first section of every test he gave), and I remember getting a hand cramp as I wrote my essay responses (which was always the last question type for all of his tests). I remember his dramatic enactments and descriptions of epic battles and wars.

    1. So funny you mentioned that covenant………..I just came across mine a few weeks ago and I have it tucked away with all of my high school stuff. 🙂

  7. Katie Landry says:

    One that sticks out was my senior year. For some reason, my whole class decided to skip Bible and sit on the grass outside instead- outside of where Mr. Schrage’s to used to be. He came out looking for us, and we came up with all these stories…we thought class was canceled, we were waiting for him outside to have class, etc. He looked at us and was like, ‘You’re all…full….of crap!” And we all just started cracking up- Mr. Contes, too. And then I remember the Christmas play the teachers would do around Christmas. I can’t remember the details, but I definitely remember Mr. Contes in a wife-beater. On a serious note, this is a more recent memory. We had been teaching together a few years,and he still was (and is) my go- to guy for wisdom, advice,etc. I was just struggling with worry, anxiety, fears, etc. and he was telling me how he had struggled with this in the past and reciting and memorizing Scripture had really helped him. Well, he came in the next day with about 50 scripture verses on index cards, HANDWRITTEN, and personalized with my name…”though Katie walks through the valley of the shadow of death, she will fear no evil, because He is with Katie…’ To this day, I don’t know that anyone has ever done anything so thoughtful or genuinely caring as that for me. And he is like this, even still, with everyone. Having him as a co- worked is one of my favorite things about my job. I seriously feel kinda sad for anyone who doesn’t know him. He is a truly regular, down to earth guy- who is one of the most extraordinary and Christ like person a person could know. And as a teacher now, I cannot believe all the antics he put up with! Unbeleivable. And even though we have worked together for 12 years, he is still Mr. Contes to me. (My class’s – and class of ’91- nickname for him was ‘hammer’- as in M.C.(Mr. Contes) Hammer.:)

    1. Katie – i remember the wife beater and a long haired wig! lol I think I had a nervous breakdown after high school because he wasn’t going to be in my life every day anymore. ha ha I agree with everything you said. 🙂

  8. I went to church with the Mrs Holzknecht you mentioned. What an amazing lady she was! I went to that school for a year but Mrs H had already retired to VA. I didn’t have Mr C but my sister did. She loved him!

  9. Kristen (Gotterup) Hutchinson says:

    Diana, you brought tears to my eyes, as I remembered all the good times we had.
    Mr. Contes was a wonderful teacher that also influenced my life. Mr. Contes cared about each and everyone of us. He always had the time to listen to our concerns and issues. I have so many memories of the wonderful teachers that helped to make me the person that I am today.
    One memory that stands out in my mind is my junior year class trip. Mr. Contes and his wife were brave enough to take twenty teens camping for three days. He and his wife watched out for us. The meals were amazing. He stayed up late to make sure we were safe. We had some great laughs that weekend.
    Mr. Contes prepared us for life after high school. If it was not for him, I would not have been ready for my freshman year of college. He taught me to believe in myself. He always believed in me and all his other students.
    I still have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Contes every now and then. He always greets me with a warm smile. I hope one day that my children will have the opportunity to learn from him.
    As Diana mentioned there are other teachers that influenced my life. Mrs. Holzknecht, was a kind and patient teacher. She worked with us tirelessly till we understood math.
    As I reflect back on my years in high school. I have wonderful memories of the teachers I had the opportunity to learn from. I hope that I will be half the teacher that these wonderful people are. Thank you Mr. Contes!

  10. Christine Petzold Baldassare says:

    Amen to everything shared about Mr. Contes and all the awesome teachers at SCS. I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend and teach at such an amazing school. It has made me the person i am today and enabled me to stay strong in my faith and walk with God. It was home and family to me and always will be.

  11. As a teacher for 31 years, I know these tributes will be the best gift you could ever give! I applaud you all for taking the time to tell this man how much he means to you. That’s really all we beings really want, to be respected, appreciated and loved.

  12. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *