The Perfect Teacher for a Wanderlust Daughter


Courtesy photo

Paul Bouchard with Lynda

Lynda Bouchard, Contributor

Having your father teach at the same high school you attend is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you will always make it to school on time. The curse? You always make it to school on time.  That was not at all appreciated when my first class was Algebra. Gee, thanks Dad. 

As you can tell, in high school, I had the perfect teacher in Paul Bouchard, and his lessons went beyond the classroom. He taught history, he coached track and field and I am writing this because he died last month. I wish I had written it sooner when he was still here to read it. 

I never had my father as a teacher while I attended BFA. I didn’t want to deal with the nepotism. But he was my teacher in so many other, more important ways. A cross between Atticus Finch and Sherriff Andy Taylor, he was a stickler for rules. I wasn’t. I was so far outside the box you couldn’t see the box! Dad stayed safely within it. But he encouraged my wanderlust spirit. I appreciated that in him. I spent four very happy years at BFA not fully knowing that my history-teaching father had a history of his own and wanted to become a lawyer but failed the bar exam and didn’t try again because he had found love. My mother, Irene, brought out the best in him.

Just a handful of days before my father passed I was in St. Albans, visiting my parents. It’s as if he was waiting to see me before he finally let go. God is sovereign. 

While I was home, I stopped by BFA where my cousin and your superstar staff member, Peg Goldsbury, gave me an amazing tour down memory lane! The halls still smelled musty like 1974, and it was a time warp of blissful remembrances. Wandering the Phys Ed corridors I had the good fortune to visit with Dan Marlow and this is how my father, the BFA teacher, changed my life. I saw who he was through the eyes of other teachers like Dan Marlow and the late Roxanna Pierce, and the students whom he taught and who shared their stories with me.

As a literary publicist, I have the honor of working with some of the most influential authors on the planet. David Isay, author of Listening is an Act of Love, is one of them. David is also the founder of StoryCorps, a platform to record the stories of loved ones which are then archived in the Library of Congress. Before my father became ill and wasn’t able to speak clearly and coherently, we recorded his story together on StoryCorps. I encourage you to do this with your loved ones because asking questions is the answer. It was transformative. I also recorded with my mother. Their stories now live forever.

The poet Wallace Stevens said: ‘Death is the mother of beauty.’  The end of life has its own essence.  The things that are most important to me now are what may seem most inconsequential, such as Paul’s shaky handwriting or a walk to the barber shop with him. Now, nothing compares to the gift of remembrance. 

To the BFA community that loved him, you made his life full. You know who you are! Every gesture of your kindness, in the wake of his death, honors him.

Today, as I look back across the labyrinth of my dad’s life, the greatest tribute I can offer is gratitude. THANK YOU, Dad, for the lessons learned and for letting me fly. I rejoice in the life we shared. 

Lynda Bouchard (´74) is the daughter of former BFA history teacher Paul Bouchard. Lynda is an author, literary publicist and podcast host. She is a St. Albans native and BFA alumna.