Profiling Mr. Ogletree

Jackie Cope, Opinions Editor

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John Ogletree is not your average substitute teacher. In fact, any other adjective might suit the building sub— but not “average.” Ogletree is on call to teach in any class in any school in the Westport school district, from Staples to Saugatuck.

Ogletree graduated from the University of North Carolina with a major in fine arts. To this day, he paints and draws in his free time. Landscapes are his favorite, he says.

After completing his education, he worked in a high school as an art teacher. But not soon after, he became a textile executive. He’s worked for both his own business and for Vera Neumann, a famous designer. Neumann is best known for bold scarves with colored patterns, signed “Vera.” Her signature stamp is a ladybug.

Ogletree worked on scarves, and he also worked as a “colorer.” A colorer works to match color shades exactly. He also specialized in chemicals used in textile printing, the actual process of making fabrics for clothes.

He worked in the industry for 35 years and learned a lot, he says. He continues to learn today, as a substitute teacher.

“I’m learning material I normally wouldn’t: social studies, English, as well as art classes. I like to mix it up,” says Ogletree. Being a substitute allows him to be a jack of all trades, and he’s never bored.

Skills from working in the textile industry translated to the classroom. Interacting with colleagues helped Ogletree become a people person, and his executive position allowed him to gain experience as an authority figure. These skills allow him to be both the boss of the classroom, but also a fun teacher to talk to.

“I love high school age kids. They’re eager to learn and really enthusiastic, really knowledgable,” says Ogletree.

While interviewing him in the English department’s hallway, a group of boys passed by, recognized the substitute and starting chanting enthusiastically:  “Ogletree, Ogletree, Ogletree!”

“I really enjoy my job,” says the smiling substitute, laughing a bit at his exuberant fans.

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