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Matsuo Basho, the internationally renowned Japanese poet, is a favorite poet of Carl Haller, our next honoree, who in many ways resembles the Haiku master. Both are poets, lovers of words. Aptly, Mr. Haller was hired to teach English and help create the Foster Writing Center. He is an avid reader who shares poems and books with students and colleagues, one of whom remembers, “I will never forget Carl's meticulous printing on a white board or the way he underlined a passage in a short story with a ruler.” All of Carl’s colleagues know the pleasure of finding in their inbox a poem he has unearthed with them in mind.
Like Basho, Mr. Haller is also a master teacher whose meditative mindfulness has influenced so many. One colleague observes, “Like a gentle Buddhist monk tending a Zen garden, Carl works at his craft of teaching with love and devotion. Like a good gardener, he observes carefully every detail of a living plant and knows when to prune and cut back to allow the emerging flower to bloom.”
The poet Basho was a wanderer whose journeys took him off the beaten path. Similarly, Mr. Haller believes in the importance of learning outside the classroom, and over the years he led many field trips. Alex Gardner, his partner on many, says, “I was always so happy to watch the long and lanky ‘mother goose’ lead his students. His gaggle of freshmen would struggle to keep up with his pace and the pressing schedule. But, it was when he slowed down to speak with them that struck me. His interest and passion for whatever was in front of him was always clearly evident.”
Mr. Haller is also a world traveler who has accompanied his wife, Karen, on many international trips, from which he sends carefully penned postcards to friends and colleagues. As one postcard recipient notes, wherever he travels, both literally and metaphorically, “he has always walked to a different drum beat, but oh what a lovely cadence it has been."
And like the poet Basho whose works are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites in Japan, here at McDonogh the work of Mr. Haller is inscribed in the hearts and minds of all he has touched in his 26 years of devotion.
Mr. Haller and his wife are looking forward to spending more time with their daughter, Ellen, their son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Carl, thank you for your forward-thinking legacy.