A TRIBUTE TO MR. JOHN KOZLOWSKI, THE NOTORIOUS K.O.Z. –
After four years of college, I remember my university’s General Chemistry Program as, still, one of the craziest, hardest experiences of my academic life. However, I did not go alone. I had already been through Pre-AP and AP Chemistry, two of the best classes I’ve ever had the joy of taking. And thanks to Mr. John Kozlowski – Mr. Koz – I was prepared. I was, in ways, already a committed scientist at heart.
It is a rare thing to see one of a school’s hardest classes be also one of its most beloved. It is a rare, rare, rare, incredibly lucky experience to have one of the world’s hardest subjects taught so well, by such a great teacher.
No matter how things were going, we could rely on Mr. Koz to teach a challenging class well. And that is a truly difficult thing for a teacher to accomplish. It begins with “What’s nu?” at the door, with a calm hand steeple at the front, with organized packets for every unit, well-written exam questions, and PV=nRT.
Mr. Koz’s classes were hard, yet in his hands, we rose to the challenge. His knowledge, passion, and wit inspired confidence, and we went forth in confidence. How can anybody teach solubility rules and still retain the faith and dedication of their students? Chemistry is a hard field – the natural sciences, in general, is a nails-hard place – and yet, class with Mr. Koz made every day better.
He helped foster in me a love of chemistry, and a love of science, that I will have my whole life. It was not mentioned at graduation, but, Mr. Koz, earning the one-time title of “Dr. Allen” from you is one of the highest awards of my academic career. Mr. Koz, I am proud to have been your student. I used what you taught me in my nanochemistry lab at UMSL. I used what you taught me in General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. I used what you taught me in my bacterial pathogenesis lab at the WU Medical School.
And now, even though I am no longer in the sciences, I will always be a scientist. I will always retain my fascination with chemistry, my joy of learning how atoms and molecules interact to compose our chaotic universe. I may be going into public service, but I will always know how to read a paper. I will always think analytically. The universe is a complicated place, but answers are a squiggly-line data table away.
Thank you, Mr. Koz. You succeeded. You will always have a home at FHC.
–Garrett Allen, Class of 2018
One of my favorite classes, and one that I continue to tell people about despite my major being unrelated to its topic, was Mr. Koz’s AP Chem class. I took it my junior year, and I can say hands down it was one of my favorite classes. I occasionally run across molar units in my aerospace classes, and every time I always sing the “mol song” in my head. Sometimes my friends and I recount labs we did, and we always remember how Koz would encourage us to find the “party pink!” color when doing titrations. What I’m most grateful for is how that class pushed me. It was decidedly my first really tough class in high school, and the standard Mr. Koz held us to made me very determined to succeed, and it has really prepared me for what challenging classes can be like, even in college, especially when you enjoy the class. Chemistry was hard, but Koz made me LOVE it, and he made it fun, so it was fun to try my best to do it! He encouraged me to go for an engineering degree, and while at the time I was considering chemical or pharmaceutical engineering, the things and the study habits I learned in AP Chem have helped me so much with my degree in Aerospace. Thank you, Mr. Koz for challenging us and encouraging us, all while having fun along the way! You will be very missed!
-Hannah Rodecap, Class of 2019
Mr. Kozlowski was my Honors Chemistry and Chemistry 2 teacher during the 2001-2003 school years. Hi Mr. Koz! My Chem 2 class terrorized him, and probably made him regret choosing to teach…I’m honestly impressed he is just now retiring! 😉 I went on to complete my degree from Rolla in Chemical Engineering and worked for a couple of years as an engineer, but I always knew I loved teaching. I went back to school and got my masters in teaching from Drury University and began teaching in 2010. The first year I taught Chemistry after at least 7-8yrs since I last saw him, I reached out to Mr. Koz (and Mr. Dauve for HA&P!) for resources to help me get started teaching, and he shared so willingly, even though he probably didn’t even remember me:) His class was where my love for Chemistry started, and it is still going strong today as I continue to teach AP Chem currently. I will never forget you, and wish you the VERY best in your retirement!! Go Spartans!
-Krystle (Mincoff) Sperry, Class of 2004
I heard Mr. Koz is retiring so I came to fill out this form to let him know that he is still one of the absolute best teachers I’ve ever had. Now, it may be 10 years since I’ve taken Chemistry, but I still haven’t forgotten how smart it made me feel when I could figure out a chemical based solely on a mol and a number?? That’s incredible. I wish I still remembered how to do it! I want him to know that his class really made me love science, and I want him to know I’ve been an incredibly successful nurse for the last six years! If I could go back in time though, I’d be a pharmacist. Except I hated the part of the course on organic chemistry. Either way, I made it Mr. Koz, and every day I use critical thinking I learned from you and your course! Thanks for everything
-Kristen (Kochmann) Millfelt, Class of 2012
Mr. Koz had one of the most rigorous classes I’ve ever taken, but his ability to break things down logically and teach helped me in more subjects than just Science.
-Daniel Tedder, Class of 2015
Mr. Koz – congrats on your retirement! I will always be thankful for your classes, humor and the knowledge you imparted. I now work for Boeing as a Public Relations professional in its sustainability organization. I talk about hydrogen a good portion of my day and credit AP Chem for forming my foundational knowledge. Congrats and enjoy!
-Joanna (Leath) Wingbermuehle, Class of 2008
From a member of the first graduating class, thank you for the best science class experience of my education. It was the first year Physics was offered at FHC and there were 7 of us in the class. We built rockets and launched them, we soldered circuits, we just had a lot of fun! I have wonderful memories of my time learning from Mr. Koz.
-Melissa (Rhodus) Claus, Class of 2000
Mr. Koz was ahead of his time teaching us how to think critically back when I was in his class in 2006. In today’s political and information saturated world, it is an invaluable skill to have started learning in high school.
-Jacob Parrent, Class of 2008
I want to thank Mr. Koz for imparting such a memorable education of chemistry that I used what I learned in his classes to get me through college and thus far 8 years as a biology teacher. I’m 30 years old and still know the molar mass of water and my polyatomics. I also still get upset when I see party pink and nervous when anyone asks me “what’s new (nu)?” so when I said you made an impression, I’m serious! THANK YOU for making science both fun and easy to understand!
P.S. I’m sorry me and the crew had our little senior skip day on the day we learned about spin up/spin down. For what it’s worth, I’ll never forget the lesson of having to teach myself quantum physics.
-Brittany (Hayes) Copeland, Class of 2010
Thank you for making science class fun. “You can’t say stoichiometry without a smile on your face. Just try it.” — Mr. Kozlowski, circa 2001
-Amy Guignon, Class of 2005
A true icon of FHC. I had the pleasure of having him two years, and the knowledge I took from his class prepared me for my path in medical school. Little does he know, but his notes, which helped simplify and make chemistry, a difficult subject manageable, also helped many other students in my college class. He made chemistry fun, whether it be making small jokes as avoiding “party pink” while doing titrations or tie-dying shirts and making ice cream. He is inspiring with his path to deciding to be a high school chemistry teacher (which all of us alumni and current students are so grateful for) after pursuing multiple paths from engineering to pre-med. Thank you, Mr. Koz, for all that you do and have done for your students. I am truly grateful and would not be on this path if it were not for you and your class.
–Erica Swanson, Class of 2014
Mr. Koz was the best chem teacher I have ever had. No one has helped me understand chem so well, and has also been so patient and helpful. You’ll be missed Mr. Koz.
-Zoe Shanley, Class of 2020
I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Koz as my chem teacher for two of my four years. I’ve never been a morning person, but hearing Mr. Koz exuberantly say “Good morning 1st hour!” and the class’s response of “Good morning Mr. Koz!” was enough to get me on the best start I could ask for for the rest of my day. Even after graduating AP Chem and, in his words, disappointing him with my decision to not pursue a STEM field in college, the short interactions we had as I passed by his room on my way to class or the parking lot. It’s those little interactions, those little sprinkles in all of his students’ days that truly make Mr. Koz an amazing teacher. While I no longer study the subject matter in his class, the manner in which he approached his lessons continues to fuel my intellectual fire today. The sarcasm-veiled yet clearly present compassion he showed me and my classmates surely will not be forgotten for years and years to come.
-Reed Easterling, Class of 2021
I have a funny story to share about Mr. Koz! First of all I want to say he was such a great teacher and was a huge help in understanding the fundamentals of chemistry! There’s no way I’d be successful in medical school today without the base of knowledge he gave me. I remember one time in class we were about to take an exam and I had really horrible bronchitis at the time, I could not stop coughing and I felt so bad. I knew it was distracting to everyone around me and I was trying to hold in the coughing fits, which of course made my face beet red. Mr. Koz came over, picked up my desk, carried it from the BACK of the room out the door, and let me take the exam in the hallway! There I could cough freely and not interrupt anyone else too horribly! So thankful for all the knowledge he gave me & wishing him the best, most rewarding retirement!
-Isabel Schwartz, Class of 2018