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Origins of Ensworth Traditions: Mr. Kautzman

Polly Bibb Douse
Inside the classroom, Mr. Kautzman challenged his students to maintain the standard of Ensworth excellence. He required respect, honor, and integrity. Over the years, his students stood when he entered the classroom and shut the door to begin class, and they waited to sit until they were told they could. He made such an impact on his students that they had bumper stickers and t-shirts made that said, “I survived Kautzman.”
When asked about his experience at Ensworth, Mr. Kautzman notes, “[Being at Ensworth] was the greatest experience of my life other than my children and my wife… It’s just incredible. I used to always say that I never had to go to work a day in my life. Instead, I got to come and play with students and math and get paid for it, and that beats working any day. It’s all about the students. The students were what made the experience.”

An ongoing tradition that Mr. Kautzman helped usher into existence was the James N. Brown Award. This award is given to select Grade 8 students during Closing Exercises in May.

“Jim Brown, former assistant headmaster, was one of the finest educators that I was ever associated with. Unfortunately, he passed away at a very young age from cancer. Jim was the kind of guy who required certain things, but it wasn’t academic excellence. That was tied into it, but you did not have to be a straight-A student to be one of Jim’s guys. He expected you to behave yourself and give maximum effort. You had to be a good guy to be one of Jim’s guys. Many students feared going to him for disciplinary reasons, not because they were afraid of him, but because they had let him down. He was a powerful, powerful educator. He had a tremendous effect on me, even though I only got to work with him for a few years before he passed away. I was one of the ones that instituted the idea of the James N. Brown Award to honor those students who gave their best. They might not be the best student or the best athlete but they tried hard and were good people,” remarked Mr. Kautzman.

Whether it is working on self-portraits, raising funds with the first grade pet show, or sporting bumper stickers of honor around town, it all comes back to the same thing: Ensworth was established by hard-working, wonderful people devoted to the children they instructed. It is a community that strives to take care of each other and those less fortunate. Ensworth traditions are built on serving others, respecting others, and striving for excellence.

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