April 16, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Catholic class buys back guitar for teacher

This Christmas story includes a guitar, a man who wanted his wife to have a nice present — by the way, it’s not the guitar — and a group of high school kids.

Ralph Jaworski has taught at Elyria Catholic High School for 12 years. This year, he teaches computer-aided drafting, architectural drafting and religion. It was his religion class — a group of intelligent and thoughtful juniors — that reminded him of the good young people can do when no one is watching.

Two years ago, Jaworski bought a six-string acoustic guitar for $65 from a former student because he had always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. He was in a band called Blues Beach and wanted to add a new sound to the ensemble.

Some time later, the band stopped playing together, but Jaworski said he still loved to strum the guitar in his free time. Sometimes, he would get together before school with some musically inclined students for a jam session.

Jaworski never thought of getting rid of the guitar, but love makes a man do things he wouldn’t normally consider doing. This year, he wanted to get his wife of 38 years an extra special gift and in order to finance the purchase he decided he would sell his beloved guitar.

“You know, it’s a good guitar,” he said. “It fits me well and it’s easy to play.”

Jaworski didn’t want to make a profit so he opted to sell the guitar for the same amount he paid.

When his students learned Jaworski, who they all call “Mr. J,” was planning to sell the guitar to buy his wife a Christmas present they decided they would be the buyers. Only they had no plan to keep the instrument.

Instead, they pooled their money and used a proxy — a former student Jaworski knew well — to be the buyer.

Jaworski made the transaction and parted with his guitar thinking he would never see it again. However, within a few days — it was actually during the final period of the day on the last day of school because of winter break — the students in his religion class handed him a gift.

Along with a card wishing him a merry Christmas, the students gave him back his guitar.

“The action or gesture of getting it back actually means more to me than getting the actual guitar back,” Jaworski said. “When you are a teacher, you put your time in. You make your lesson plans. You grade the tests, but you really hope they are learning something more profound. When they do something like this, it lets you know you have done your job.”

But if you ask student Breanna Angell she will tell you Jaworski is pretty incredible. He’s the kind of teacher that tries to relate to kids, keeps his class interesting and is always joking.

“If you need someone to talk to, he is a friend, too,” said the 17-year-old junior.

So, as soon as students found out he was selling the guitar — it was on display in his classroom because Jaworski hoped it could go back to a student — the plan to buy it was made.

“We decided to do it the same day we found out he was trying to sell it,” Breanna said. “He didn’t expect it, but when he saw it he was shocked we had done this for him.”

Collin Murphy, 19, is a former Elyria Catholic student and Breanna’s boyfriend. He played the role of the buyer. Ironically, he was also the person who taught Jaworski how to play the guitar two years ago.

“This was a cool surprise for a guy who really deserves it,” Murphy said. “He’s just a really deserving guy, and there is nothing bad you can say about him.”

By now, Mary Ann Jaworski has probably opened the gift and is wearing the new charm bracelet with the heart charm Jaworski said represents the love he has for his wife. He believes this Christmas he did well with his gift.

“Usually I get something practical like for the kitchen or house, but I wanted her to have something she would not expect or ask for this year,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with jewelry. It’s something that won’t be too small or too big or the wrong color.

“But if there is any story here, it’s not about what I did for my wife,” Jaworski added. “It’s about what they did. It’s just incredible.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.