Inside ECS: Adam Homo, Elkhart Memorial

Adam Homo never set out to become an educator. If you know Adam, it’s likely unbelievable to think that the man who bleeds so deeply in crimson and gold could have potentially never landed in a school building for a career.

Where did Adam have his sights set when he graduated from Elkhart Central? “I was going to be a lawyer. I’d already earned my bachelor’s degree, and was working as a teachers assistant while earning my Master’s. I’d passed the L-SAT and everything. It was Dr. Richard Perrin who suggested I look into teaching.”

That conversation led him to the halls of Elkhart Memorial in December 1999, where he pursued a position for himself as a student teacher. He remembers Elkhart Memorial principal Carolyn Cook approaching him and asking how long he intended to teach. His response of “30 years,” earned him a trip to the principal’s office… to sign a contract on the spot. He’s been teaching English at Elkhart Memorial High School ever since.

A native of Elkhart, Adam always knew he’d end up back here. With a Dad who taught for over 40 years, a mom who taught for over 20 years, and a grandma who taught for over 20 years, it almost seemed destined for Adam to become a teacher. And with a dad who has been coaching since 1979, it’s also only natural that Adam would lead the Elkhart Memorial cross country and track teams, and help with the swim team when needed. The importance of family and being involved is something near and dear to Adam’s heart.

“Growing up, I was always involved in what was happening. I saw these great coaches – Coach Kurth, Coach Noffsinger, my dad – they were always involved, always busy, always working to help kids grow. They never had down time. I’d go crazy if I had down time.”

But to say that Adam is focused solely on athletics would be selling him short. Yes, he gets a certain excitement when he talks about how great his athletes are doing, but his eyes truly light up when the subject of books comes up.

“My parents had 10,000 books in their house. We have easily 3,000 or more in my house.”

As for what he’s currently reading? Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World. “I love to re-read books, even from my childhood. It’s like visiting an old friend. Right now, I’m reading Tom Swift Jr out loud to my son. It was printed in the 1950’s, but re-reading things as an adult, I see them in a completely different view.”

Speaking of seeing things in a different view, every year, he re-reads the books he assigns his students in class. He says he’s read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ at least 50 times and finds something new every time.

One view that hasn’t changed in his life as an Elkhart student and now as an Elkhart teacher? The teachers. “When I was a student, teachers looked out for me, they looked out for everybody. This hasn’t changed. We still look out for kids. I try hard to emphasize empathy to my students when dealing with issues. I tell them, ‘you don’t know where someone else is coming from. You might not have any idea what the other student is dealing with, you might not even understand if you knew. If someone snaps, it might not be about you or them, it might be their situation. You can’t judge, you have to help.’ A lot of kids get it. The teachers are willing to work with kids. As a coach, we even see it a little more, as kids get comfortable and form bonds with their coaches.”

Being an English teacher with a passion for books, it’s only natural to have children who share in the passion. His two children, Brayden (7) and Madelyn (12), are both readers. “Now that my daughter is in 7th grade, we can really go in-depth with discussing books. She just finished Lord of the Rings. We’ve had great conversations about it, about the meaning and imagery. I’m watching her grow intellectually. I’ve always told them ‘it’s not the grade that matters to me, what did you learn?’ I think it’s incredible important for families to be involved – to show an interest in what your kids are doing, to show them you care. More than ‘what happened today?’ I like to ask ‘what did you learn today?’ or ‘what projects do you have coming up?’ More than the academic piece, we can help teach our children about time management, how to plan out the project, how to help yourself improve.”

Self-improvement and involvement are key to Adam in family, life, career, and sports. His wife, Nicole, is a special education teacher at Elkhart Memorial. He’s passionate about getting his kids, as well as the kids he teaches, involved in things because it teaching them so much, including bouncing back from failure and finding a balance. His daughter Madelyn is involved in cross country, track, band, and swimming. His son Brayden is involved in swimming and looking forward to joining more teams and clubs as he gets a little older. Adam says they’ve been around teams their whole lives, much like he was as a child.

When asked about moments or students who left a mark on his long career, he points to two young ladies.

One came unexpectedly from a former student. As he does with many of his students, he kept in touch with her after she graduated. When she began to struggle in college in the honors program, Adam talked her out of dropping out. The student later sent him a note, telling him how much he influenced her and how much this meant to her.

The second was a student who decided to try running. Her first run was a 10-minute mile and she cried the first month of practice. Adam talked to her, told her it takes time, recounted his story of once having the record of the slowest time on the Oxbow course, and encouraged her to keep going. When she completed the season, she was running a 6-minute mile. Adam still sees her around town from time to time, and she loves to talk about this experience.

“I drive my kids nuts when we go out. We have to plan for an extra hour of time because I’ll run into people who I want to catch up with or just people I know who want to talk. The more involved you are, the more people you’ll meet and the more opportunity you’ll have later through the people you meet.”