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Teacher of the Year: The Mystery and Legacy of Edwin Barlow Paperback – March 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"The biggest problem with American education is we don't have nearly enough Mr. Barlow's". --Steve Kroft, "60 Minutes"

"A fascinating, well-researched, and insightful exploration of a brilliant but tortured soul. I couldn't put it down."

"I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is fabulous...many of the stories had me in stitches"

"Meyers goes beyond his subject's public persona to create a compelling portrait of this unusual man".

"Sincerity is the reason for the book. It's the strength of this project, and its glory --- this is a labor of love that was worth undertaking"

Book Description

I probably read more books than some people have hot meals. Most are well-crafted, no author with an ounce of sense would send me a book that is not. Very occasionally, though, I get something that is truly outstanding. "Teacher Of The Year" is in that class. Even though the year is still young, I just know that this book is going to make my annual top 10 list.

Who was Edwin Barlow? That's a great question. To many people he is a complete unknown, to those that knew this enigmatic character he was either your mentor, or tyrant depending on your view. He was a teacher, and a teacher from the old school. I suffered through the English Grammar School system, and I am pretty certain my Latin and English teachers were related to Edwin Barlow.

Edwin Barlow was also the first person to be awarded the `Teacher Of The Year' title. I know author Lawrence Meyers through some Internet email interactions. He is one smart cookie. And Edwin Barlow was one of his high school teachers.

Lawrence has worked long and hard on this biography. Mister Barlow was a deeply private person, and a man that deserves to be recognized. He shunned attention, he lived a monastic life, he terrified his students, and he likely was the best teacher in living memory. He lived the life of a pauper with few possessions, yet in death it was revealed that his estate was more that $400,000, most of which went to help an educational foundation.

Lawrence has taken a novel approach to the format of this book. "Part One: The Mister Barlow I Knew" is exactly that. It is Lawrence's own high school memories and also their relationship afterwards. Some of the stories had me in stitches. Mister Barlow comes across as a tyrannical despot bent on terrorizing his pupils. He had a particularly interesting bedside manner, referring to students that displeased him, which was a frequent occurrence, as `vegetables' or `clods'. My favorite quote though has to be, "Ms, Jones only prostitutes wear purple, get out of my class!"

Somehow I doubt that these tactics could be used in schools these days.

"Part Two: The Mister Barlow You Knew" is a collection of stories by other people who knew him, both as former students, and also colleagues and contemporaries. Once again he comes across as an enigma. Little is revealed about the private life of the man. He seemed to spend virtually 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, skulking in his lair at Horace Greenly High School. On Sunday mornings, for example, he could be found at his desk doing the New York Times crossword.

"Part Three: The Mister Barlow Nobody Knew", pulls the veil aside. Lawrence, through grit and determination, followed every lead he could find, and eventually started to unearth the strange story of Edwin Barlow. A World War II veteran, wounded twice. A man with deep-seated religious beliefs who, for a time, gave serious thought of becoming a member of the clergy. A plan dashed by his experiences in the war, Edwin Barlow could not in good conscience join the cloth with blood on his hands. Education became his chosen profession.

The final part of the book, "Understanding Mister Barlow..." analyzes the enigma through his readings and writings. Much can be gleaned about a man by the books he read. Edwin Barlow had a real passion for "Alice In Wonderland". In fact, in a rare interview, when asked if he could be anyone in the world, his reply was Lewis Carroll.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a fabulous story, and the quality of writing is excellent.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: H.H. & Sons (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982018312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982018316
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lawrence Meyers studied with Edwin Barlow at Horace Greeley High School, and thereafter graduated Cornell University with a B.A. in Chemistry and attended USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He has written 23 hours, and produced 60 hours, of TV programming including Picket Fences, The Pretender, Roar, When I Grow Up, The Outer Limits, Andromeda, The Net, and Crossing Jordan. He sold two feature film scripts, Superkids (with Stan Lee as producer), and 1001 Nights (with Toby Jaffe as producer).

Larry has written for finance websites The Motley Fool, SeekingAlpha and InvestorPlace, and his work appears at Yahoo! Finance, Google Finance, Zacks, and MSN Money. His investment articles have generated over 2 million unique page views.

He became the first journalist to cover the companies and stocks in the short-term consumer lending sector. In 2006, he co-founded a private equity venture that provided low-cost short-term loans to consumers and working-capital loans to other lenders.

Today, Larry is regarded as a national expert on alternative consumer finance. He consults for hedge funds and private equity via his Council Member status at Gerson Lehman Group, and as a member of Coleman Research Group's Executive Forum. His Op-Eds have appeared in over two dozen newspapers. He also brokers financing, strategic investments, and distressed asset purchases between private equity firms and businesses of all stripes.
His investigative journalism has provided clarity for policymakers, and the public, on fragrance chemistry, vaccine manufacturing, fisheries, statins, biofuel, tobacco taxation, siloxane D5, and a popular keratin hair-straightening treatment. He also pens articles on popular culture. The venues for these works are and

Larry's second book, Inside the TV Writer's Room: Practical Advice for Succeeding in Television has been praised by both established and aspiring writers for its unique insight into the creative process.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was a student of Mister Barlow's by choice in both 9th and 11th grade. I was never very good at math and still couldn't do alegbra if asked today. It wasn't that Mister Barlow didn't do his job, for he did that and more. It is just that algebra was very rarely required in my life and so it is forgotten. To be honest I do believe that the lessons of Mister Barlow's classroom as the author of this book proclaims have much more to do with life skills, than the actual subject matter he taught.

Mister Barlow made it very clear that paying attention was the most important aspect of any learning as well as using the method of having us take dictation when he was teaching a new subject. Learning through the senses of visual, auditory and kinesthetic (movement through the writing) would enable his students to more easily learn the content of his lessons no matter their learning style.

He damanded respect and as such taught us to respect ourselves and the monetary investment our parents made in terms of the taxes paid when in class one day he made a comment to one of the students in class: "Mr. "X" your parents are not paying $3,000 a year in taxes for you to stare out that window. FACE THE FRONT OF THE ROOM NOW AND LOOK AT THE BLACKBOARD!".

I went to a small school outside Boston to study Elementary Education with Moderate Special Needs, and when I would visit home I would usually go visit the high school. On a few occassions I stopped by and spoke with Mister Barlow who had much wisdom to share. He told me that he knew that anyone could teach the smart kids, it was the ones (such as myself) who had learning difficulties that required a master of a teacher to get the most out of them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sidetracked scientist on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
For a score of years post WWII, public education in Chappaqua, New
York, where Hillary and Bill have a home, was a model of an
expanding bedrooom community with grass roots support for a deeply
interested and dedicated leadership and uniquely qualified and
interested collection of faculty at all levels. It was on the
northern fringes of the hustle and bustle of New York City, still an
hour-and-a-half by train (pulled by steam locomotives changing to
electric engines at North White Plains). It still has a couple of
Quaker Meeting Houses and some of its houses still trace their
origins to before the revolutinary war.

It was comfortable with itself. Denizens left their front doors
unlocked without fear and allowed their children to roam pretty
freely for miles by foot, bicycle or car, secure in the knowledge
that if something untoward was in progress a friend, neighbor or
policeman (who probably was also a friend and neighbor) would notice
and help or, if necessary, call for it. When the inevitable
unpleasant problem arose, the community circled the wagons and
quietly made it go away, usually in a fashion that exhibited as much
concern for the "unfortunate" offender as the victims. Not exactly
the Camelot that is sometimes painted of the post-war period, but a
good try.

Into that community, Mr. Barlow arrived from his deprived Boston
roots and deeply scarring War experiences in the Normandy landings
and Northern France as a highly qualified, very serious and
completely dedicated math and physics teacher with a unique style
and very secretive personality. But he was multidimensional despite
his focus on math, science and secrecy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Harland on June 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Teacher of the Year by Lawrence Meyers is a great mixture of the fun and the serious. As I was reading this delightful book, I found myself laughing aloud at times and deep in thought a few moments later. Much of the enjoyment for me had to do with my own memories of high school. The setting of the story, Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, could be almost any suburban high school with its range of student cliques, teenage pressures and influence of local folklore. It is easy to empathize with the author's challenging experiences while trying to survive adolescence. I suspect that most readers will find the characters and situations familiar, although they probably never had a teacher quite as frightening as Mister Barlow. I never did, but by the end of the story I found myself wishing that I had.

The book is also a serious commentary on a spectrum of subjects including education, methods of discipline, philosophy, religion, and the personal ramifications of having served in combat during World War II. It includes rich literary references and chapter appendices. Some sections might especially appeal to educators or members of the clergy since there is a discussion of the relationship between these two professions. Other sections, such as those covering the War in Europe, would appeal to veterans or anyone else with an interest in history. One advantage of the book is its organization; it is easy to focus on the chapters that are most relevant to your interests. As for myself, I will be reading it again cover to cover. Teacher of the Year, the Mystery and Legacy of Edwin Barlow, is a nostalgic and intellectual journey for anyone who believes in the importance of teachers.
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