By David McDaniels
What makes a man a legend? Is it his accomplishments, bold actions, or depth of knowledge? At Byram Hills High School, nobody fits this mold as well as Mr. Horowitz. On his wall it reads, “Mr. Horowitz is a significant figure,” and to all students, this is the truth. To be a successful teacher one needs to convey the information effectively, and more importantly, one needs to have a personality that inspires and engages all students. Mr. Horowitz has all this and more.
If you saw Mr. Horowitz with his foot long ponytail, you would probably think that he is part of a rock band. You would not be entirely wrong. In college, Mr. Horowitz used to play the drums. All rock singers get the famous and pretty girls and Mr. Horowitz explains that there are rumors of him being romantically linked to Chelsea Handler, but there is no photographic evidence. Mr. Horowitz’s passion for music is obvious to anyone walking into his classroom, where electric guitar solos or Tool will be jamming out on his dell computer.
When asked “Why did you become a teacher?,” I got a response that was more complicated than you would think. He was going to be a biochemical engineer at an insecticide company when he decided the week before he was going to leave for the job that this job was not for him. This experience prompted him to take four three-hour classes a day over the summer for his teaching degree after majoring in biochemistry and math at Binghamton. In Mr. Horowitz’s words, “I was grossly unqualified to do anything else.” Teaching is in his DNA as both of his parents were educators.
He went to work in the Bronx at Evander Childs High School. He was not only a teacher there but also the dean in charge of students and gang intelligence. While he liked his job, he knew he had to leave. When I asked why, he proceeded to show me two places where he was stabbed. Following this, Mr. Horowitz went on to teach at North Salem and Greeley. Here, Mr. Horowitz began running Science Olympiad programs. He participated in science Olympiad in high school as well. Mr. Horowitz added that he has been around for 31 of the 32 years the Science Olympiad program existed! In his own words, Greeley was a section powerhouse until they lost their coach, and that is how Byram got Mr. Horowitz. In his ninth year here at Byram, Mr. Horowitz is one of the best teachers Byram Hills has. Perhaps, this is because he loves working at Byram for the simple reason that the kids really care about their education and want to learn. He also enjoys his colleagues and adds he has the utmost respect for Mr. Hubbs.
The next topic of conversation was his hair. Upon asking him about his hair, I got a strange look but learned an interesting piece of information. He explained, ”I have donated my hair twice and am getting ready to do it again.” The hair goes well with his love of music. He is a big Led Zeppelin fan and loves to attend live music concerts all over the Northeast. Four to five times a year he comes to school after a concert without sleeping. Still, he denies my claim that he is a groupie.
But, Mr. Horowitz’s interests go beyond music and teaching: he is also an amazing tattoo artist and draws for 2 hours every night. Not surprisingly, Mr. Horowitz has succeeded in selling his artwork to a tattoo parlor. No matter how much money I offered him, however, I couldn’t get a signed Horowitz original. In addition, Mr. Horowitz is a breeder of tropical fish and will occasionally sell the fish to local breeders. Not many people know that his interest in breeding fish was born from a high school science research experiment.
Finally, Mr. Horowitz is a sports fan as well. He played in a competitive fantasy baseball league for 14 years and had to leave because “he won the league too many times.” In high school, he was also quite the athlete. He and his friends created a men’s volleyball team that ended abruptly when he and another player crashed into each other. He tore his ligaments. This was while playing against the girl’s volleyball team.
Under his intimidating shell, which is created by fake rumors he spreads about himself and the fact that his course is challenging, he is a kind, hilarious, and approachable person. It is understandable why a student came to school dressed as him for Halloween. Mr. Horowitz makes it obvious that to be good at a job you need to have a passion and genuine interest. He shows us that you need to be yourself, and the rest will fall in line, as he never uses other people’s accomplishments as a benchmark for what he needs to do. The reputation he has developed is with much merit, and future students should look forward to having him and learning more about “the most interesting man in the hills.”