Mr. Zartman’s smile lit up every room he walked into. His amiable nature and dedication to his job were what made him a remarkable teacher. As I reflect on last year’s D carrier class, I am saddened at the thought of what was such a joyous time, but I am also eternally grateful I was able to be taught by somebody as warmhearted and honorable as Mr. Zartman.
-Bailey Maierson ’21
Although I never had the opportunity to attend a class taught by Mr. Zartman, he greatly influenced my high school experience. Whether it was simply a cheerful greeting in the hallway or his dedication to the Model UN club, he never failed to be an amazing role model for me, and I will always cherish my experiences with him.
- Ayush Suresh ’21
Wendall Zartman was a human sunbeam.
-Tracy Pesikoff, SJS Parent & Parent of Alumni
He was so unfathomably kind to me every day- and I was so much to handle. I will always be so grateful for his endless patience when I blurted out random stuff during class or spilled Girl scout cookies all over the floor. I used to always premise pretty much everything I said with negative self talk and even though most teachers would be SO annoyed, he was very understanding. He used to tell me every day before I went into class- "Indrani what is our goal for today? Not self-denigrating". God I miss him. He was such a good man. I wish I could have finished off the year having him as my teacher- I wish he could read my paper to see how much I've grown. His last email to me was how proud he was of me for raising my grade this year. Rest in peace Mr. Zartman, and stay off the streets in heaven.
- Indrani Maitra ’22
Mr.Zartman was always so cheerful and kind to everyone in class. Even when I was a freshman and didn't have him as a teacher he still said hi to me in the halls. He was always willing to help every student in class on anything and made lots of funny jokes in class that made the class fun.
- Rahul Lal ’22
The first time I got to know Mr. Zartman was at Trinity Church last year when we cooked breakfast for people who were homeless. From the moment I met him, I immediately knew that Mr. Zartman was the most selfless, most caring, and kindest person I'd ever met. When I realized that Mr. Zartman was going to be my WHAP teacher the following year, I was so incredibly excited. I knew that being in his class was going to make my sophomore year the best it could possible be, and I'm so glad to say that it truly did. Every single class, Mr. Zartman greets every student with a smile, and he asks how everyone's doing. Every time we ask how he's doing, he says, "I'm swell!" He not only cares about our academics, but he frequently inquires about our sports, fine arts, and other extracurricular activities. Every time we have great news about a sports game or a fine arts performance, he cheerfully says, '"Hurrah!" Mr. Zartman truly cares about each and every student. He makes sure to include every single student in every activity we do in class. I can guarantee that if a student was having a bad day, by the time that student walked out of his classroom, their day and their mood would become 10 times better. I will never ever forget Mr. Zartman's iconic vocabulary words like "beaucoups," "hurrah," "swell," "hurrah," "yes/no teacher," and so much more. Mr. Zartman's love and spirit will forever remain in a special spot in my heart.
- Dian Yu ’22
I personally never really knew Mr.Zartman. He was never my teacher or club sponsor or anything like that. One day in the hallway he said hello to me by name when he should have had no reason to have known my name. This shocked me and it was a memory that always stuck with me. I think that really summed up who he was. He always said hello to everyone with a smile and took time to learn everyone’s name.
- Katcher Halligan ’21
One morning, I came in early to take a history test before school because I was going to be absent the day of the test. My teacher was not present so I sat outside her room and waited for her arrival. I am not sure why but Mr. Zartman was also at school early that morning and he noticed that I seemed to be waiting. He kindly asked me if I needed help and I explained my situation. Mr. Zartman happened to have a copy of the same test and allowed me to take the test in his room even though he was not my teacher. This experience demonstrated Mr. Zartman's selflessness and kindness for others.
- Bryce Pollock ’22
He was truly the kindest person on campus. His constant support and love for teaching was unparalleled. He encouraged every student to love and live life to the fullest. I will miss his enthusiasm for life.
- Athena Adrogué ’20
I never had Mr. Zartman as a teacher, but I remember always looking forward to seeing his warm smile in the hallway. Especially on days I wasn’t feeling the best, he would always make me feel better and put a smile on my face. I wish I got the chance to tell him how much he meant to me. I’ll never forget his kind soul and how impactful he was for the sjs community.
-Caitlin Guidry ’20
Near the end of last semester, we had no more work left to do, so Mr. Zartman spent the whole class just talking to us and telling us stories about his life growing up. He described plucking chickens as a little boy among other anecdotes. He always made such an effort to connect with us and make everyone feel comfortable/welcome in his classroom, and we'll never forget it.
- Liv Rubenstein ’22
Mr. Zartman and I had a running joke because I never would tuck my shirt in. Throughout my sophomore year history class with him, he would be standing outside his door, as always, to welcome everybody to class. Then he would see me walking down the hall, shirt untucked, and as we would make eye contact, I would suddenly realize my mistake as I saw him begin to laugh and shake his head. I would always quickly tuck my shirt in and we would make the same running joke "oh i had it tucked in the whole time". "Oh yes I didn't say you did" or "Mhmm" or even sometimes he would congratulate me tucking in my shirt with his classic "hoorah". After I graduated from his class, this tradition continued. Whenever I walked past his class, I made sure to tuck my shirt in just so I could point and say "look at me go" and then I could get the laughter and satisfaction from getting a sarcastic "i'm so proud of you". Mr. Zartman had a way of connecting to me like not many teachers have. He's not the only teacher that has gotten mad at me for not tucking in my shirt, but he sure did it the best. I could go on and on about my favorite memories of Mr. Zartman, but that is what is going to stick with me harder than anything. It's silly, but that's how Mr. Zartman was. He got the best out of me because he was like that.
- Ryan Doughty ’20
I am so grateful to have gotten to know Mr. Zartman so well in my past three years at St. John’s School. In fact, it can be said that one reason I came to the school in the first place was because of Mr. Zartman, who served as my admissions interviewer. Typical of Mr. Zartman, he turned what could have been an intimidating interrogation into an hour-long conversation that was both light-hearted and memorable. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have Mr. Zartman as a mentor in Model UN and a club sponsor of STEP. Mr. Zartman has been an incredible organizer of the former activity for many years, and it is hard to imagine the Model UN club without him. When I look back at my time with Model UN, I will never forget Mr. Zartman’s encouraging words and helpful smile which first motivated me to sign up freshman year. I truly cannot imagine a teacher whose compassion and infectious love for teaching rival Mr. Zartman’s. He will be sorely missed.
- Pierce Ederle ’21
Mr. Zartman loved to make grits! For our Trinity Breakfasts for people who are homeless, that was his job. He took it very seriously because, 'he didn't want any of his people to have to eat lumpy grits!' He loved to show anyone who would look that the boiling grits looked like boiling lava. He also was a faculty sponsor for our Summer Express program for several years. He loved those refugee children. One of my favorite images of him is holding hands with a tiny boy from Burma. I asked him about the child later. "He just needed a little extra care," he replied. That was so Wendall...always there to give whoever needed it a little extra care. He always reminded me of tv's Mr. Rogers... Wendall Zartman is my Mr. Rogers.
-Marci Bahr, Faculty/Staff, Parent of Alumni
Mr. Zartman was a shining light on campus. Louisa and I sat in the front row of his AP World History Class. I'll never forget how he would crack jokes while knowing letting Louisa and I quietly chat. Or how he would mix up Mckenna and I's names. Never the less, he would smile and laugh it off. He was someone you could always count on to say hello and ask about your day in the hallway. I remember junior year, I was late to sign up for Model UN assembly spots because of a community service meeting, but he knew and saved me a place. This type of thoughtful action reminds me of Mr. Zartman's thoughtfulness and ability to create a lasting impression. He will be missed dearly.
- Mackenzie Glanville ’20
After advisory one day, I was telling Mr. Zartman my plans for my future and my dream career and was getting really stressed out about college. I remember he was so kind and listen to me go on so many tangents in my story. Then after, he kind of just chucked and told me to enjoy the moment and the time we have now. Now that he’s gone, I keep thinking about what he had told me.
- Christine Wang ’20
He was always the nicest person to me, and we would talk in the morning about life. He was a wonderful soul and may he Rest In Peace.
- John Marian ’22
Mr. Zartman was one of the most engaging teachers I’ve had. He taught me one year for world history, and since then he’s continued to stay in touch with me, a testament to how genuine his interest in his students’ academic careers and lives is. My work in so many venues and fields, from intercultural learning to the United Nations, has its roots in Mr. Zartman’s mentorship and care. Perhaps the only thing that matches that level of investment and compassion will be how much his students will continue to remember and treasure his presence in their lives. We’ll always appreciate our time with you, Mr. Zartman!
- Anirudh Suresh ’16
Mr. Zartman will remain in our hearts forever. I love you Man
- Ziad Allen, SJS Coach
When I arrived on campus as a new sophomore last year, Mr. Zartman was one of my first anchors. In all honesty, I was terrified of being the new kid, not to mention being a new kid in a non-natural entry point. On my first day in his AP World History class, I distinctly remember how even before I could introduce myself, he told the class that I was new to the school from nearby Carnegie Vanguard. He even asked me to pass out the worksheets that day so I would have a chance to meet all my classmates. His actions during that class were comforting and immediately put all my worries to ease. Throughout the days and weeks after, Mr. Zartman would make it a point to check in on me and see how my transition to St. John's was going. Mr. Zartman was always trying to get to know me better, we even had a lengthy discussion about my home neighborhood of Montrose one time. When I was planning my Eagle Scout project at the start of last year, Mr. Zartman came and sat with me in the hallway to better understand my project and gave me tips. Through such interactions, it was clear that Mr. Zartman was genuinely vested in the well being of his students. Up until I arrived at St. John's, I had never met a teacher so caring and charming. Outside of class, Mr. Zartman was always the teacher you could count on to shoot you a smile in the hallways. On a rough day (even as a junior), I never hesitated to let out my frustrations to him, knowing he would help me put things in perspective. Back in January, I got the flu for two weeks. The week I returned to school was also the week of the HAMUN conference which Mr. Zartman sponsored. In a panic, I emailed him letting him know that I wouldn't be able to make it. He immediately reassured me that everything was okay and checked in on me over the next few weeks to see if I had fully recovered. I was constantly moved by his kind gestures and words. He made me feel like I belonged in the community despite my insecurities and on days when there was nothing to smile or laugh about, Mr. Zartman changed that. He was the best of the best and I will miss him dearly. Thank you for everything, Mr. Zartman.
- Rahul Rupani ’21
Mr. Zartman was a great teacher, and a kind person. He would always cut out a little bit of time in his schedule to help me out.
- Jack Ringold ’23
Wendall Zartman was my World History teacher 36 years ago at Lamar High School in 1984. I have had many teachers throughout my career and Mr. Zartman was the best teacher that I ever had. I have made this statement several times over the years and I am grateful that I was able to say it to him in person last year at St. John's. As you all know, he truly cared about you and his students. He was an inspiration to me and I often think of him when I am teaching medical students and medical residents. I feel blessed to have known such an incredible man. I will miss him.
- Collin Bray, Current SJS Parent, Former student of Mr. Zartman
Wendall took the time to know everyone on the North Campus. He checked in almost everyday with the Admission team just to see how we were doing and to offer words of encouragement and support. He was one of our best faculty interviewers and would each year offer to take on more than his assigned number. He put families and students at ease with his kind smile and warm demeanor. We will miss his daily visits. He has a servant’s heart and a genuine passion for teaching and supporting students. Wendall was just one of those people you want to be around all the time. He will be missed.
-Courtney Burger, SJS Faculty/Staff
I was so lucky to have Mr. Zartman as my WHAP teacher sophomore year. He always brought so much enthusiasm and kindness to the classroom. I loved his assortment of world history posters and decorations, especially the Wendall is Watching poster. I have so many fond memories of Mr. Zartman, including his frequent "Hoorahs" and music parody of the black plague. Even outside of the class, Mr. Zartman was a presence in the hallway, always saying hi and smiling as I walked by. I remember specifically at Model UN this year, he took the time to specifically check in with me and ask me about my experience, which was so thoughtful and made me feel cared for. He was one of my favorite teachers and I was so sad to hear of his passing.
- Nat Larsen ’21
To me, Wendall was Don Quijote, and I was Sancho Panza. He was my go-to person for all my personal and work questions. Wendall was an extraordinary soul, wise, honest, patient, kind, sincere, and very funny. His doors were at all times open, and he always had time to listen to my questions. Wendall was a soul that inspired confidence and never judged you. Our friendship grew from small everyday conversations to deep after school conversations. He never complained about his problems and never thought about himself; he was always thinking about others. I will always remember the day that he helped me along with Kim to try to find a new look for my hair, and between laughs, we decided that my best look was JLO's hair color. I will miss Wendall every day, but I will remember him with a smile always.
- Margarita Serrano, SJS Faculty
What I will remember is him being so joyful walking down the halls of SJS. He always has a welcoming smile and fun conversation to start the day.
- John Esparza, SJS Staff
Mr. Zartman was a such kind, compassionate, empathetic, and generous person who will be dearly missed by our family. We feel blessed to have had had Mr. Zartman in our lives and are heartbroken to no longer be able to spend time with Mr. Zartman. Please accept our deep, heartfelt condolences on the loss of Mr. Zartman.
-The Chang Family, Current Student and Current Parent
He was so excited when we made the academic mace for him to carry in commencement ceremonies. He joked about using it as a tool to keep students "in line." I loved that Mr. Zartman always approached situations with his open humor and gregarious personality.
- Brittany Garmon, SJS Faculty/Staff
My daughter was captivated by Mr. Zartman's enthusiasm, warmth and humor. When my art gallery was featuring a local Houston artist who had created a series of presidential portraits, she thought it might be of interest to Mr. Zartman to attend the opening. He kindly accepted our family's invitation and he came and thoroughly enjoyed the evening, stopping and looking closely at each photographic piece and warmly thanking me and remarking on their cleverness. Though my exposure to Mr. Zartman was brief, I carried with me his sense of excitement and engagement---what a blessing that my daughter was able to be his student. He made a lasting and important impression upon her, and clearly made her feel appreciated and valued. Our thoughts are with his family now.
- Bryn Larsen ’88, Alumni, Current Parent
Mr. Zartman was always a beacon of light and love to me. It never failed that after having the month of July off, he'd show up in our office on August 1st with his exuberant smile and a hug and kiss on the cheek for me. He'd ask about how my summer went and all the fun we had, and that's when I knew the new school year had begun. He never failed to make you feel like the center of the world every time he talked to you. He was a true friend to all - always there to lend an ear or provide advice. He genuinely was the most kind-hearted, compassionate, perfect example of a gentleman that anyone could ever find. And man, did he love his students. I hope he knows how much we all love him. He is sorely, sorely missed.
- Becky Leakey, SJS Faculty/Staff
We have sincere gratitude to Mr. Zartman for teaching Ashley. We are so grateful she had the opportunity to have him as a teacher. We know how active he was in community service and feel very lucky that Ashley was able to work with him on some community service events as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during during this difficult time.
-Kim Yen, Current Parent
Mr. Zartman was by far the best history teacher I've ever had. He was always looking out for our best interests, and kept us entertained with little jokes and such. When I had scheduled a tutorial with him two days before a big paper was due, we realized I had majorly messed up one of my body paragraphs. Mr. Zartman calmly helped me fix it, and congratulated me when I did well a few months later. He could always make my day with a simple 'Hurrah!' and he will be missed.
- Camille Carleton ’22
Simply the best. I truly feel blessed to have known Wendall.
- Tahra Peterson, SJS Faculty/Staff
Wendall, I won't forget how comfortable you made me feel as a new person in the SJS Community. Many times when I stepped out of my office, I would see you sitting in the main seating area. I didn't always know why you were there, but I was always glad to see you. We even joked about always running into each other there. I will miss you friend, but I am so thankful to have been in your presence.
- Angela Anderson, SJS Faculty/Staff
I was lucky enough to meet Wendall before I ever stepped foot on SJS, through my teacher training program. Although he wasn't my mentor teacher, I remember how he would light up our meetings with his warm sense of humor and contagious laugh. He would always find a way to be both truthful and positive with his words. I will miss running into him at lunch in Flores Hall and seeing that smile that crinkled his eyes.
- Michelle Chen, SJS Faculty/Staff
Having Mr. Zartman as a history teacher my sophomore year was one of the best experiences I had at St. John’s. Mr. Zartman’s class was always the highlight of my day not because of the subject matter but rather due to the ability to learn from and interact with such an amazing person. Mr. Zartman’s calming presence, enthusiasm, cheerful smile, and perfectly timed jokes made him a teacher I was lucky to have. I will never forget how Mr. Zartman always managed to brighten my day, and I will definitely miss him.
- Kristin Ankoma-Sey ’19
I will forever be grateful to have been taught by Mr. Zartman. I looked forward to every class, and his smile truly made my day. Mr. Zartman's joy for teaching and his excellent sense of humor made me want to do my best for him every day. His shining presence will be missed in the St. Johns hallways. He was a light in this world.
- Mary Louise Mannon ’21
I didn't really know Mr. Zartman but he always said "hello" or "good morning" to me in the hallways. I would always say hello back because I didn't know him very well so I tried to be polite. Over the years, I always heard about how Mr. Zartman was one of the most down to earth teachers at St. John's. You could just walk into his classroom and just talk to him, whether it was school or just life in general, he was there for you. One of my best friends said that he always went to talk to Mr. Zartman everyday. Mr. Zartman wasn't just a teacher to my best friend... he was a friend. Later on, I was walking past Mr. Zartman's room one day, and he said "hello *MY NAME*." This shocked me because I had never really had a conversation with Mr. Zartman. I never had him as a teacher, I would have small talk with him in the hallways, but when Mr. Zartman said my name, it made me filled me with confusion but happiness. When someone says your name, it makes anything seem more personal. It seems like they know you and I have never really connected to teachers at St. John's because I'm more of a shy person. So when Mr. Zartman said my name, it made my day. I never knew how Mr. Zartman knew my name but he did and something small like that really impacted me because I was having a bad day and he really made it better just with that small action. He probably didn't think anything of it, he probably just overheard someone say my name and was just saying my name to be nice, but I will never forget this day. Mr. Zartman was just one of those people who would go out of his way to make other people's days a little bit better. He was a beam of light. After that day where Mr. Zartman said my name, I would always look forward to walking down the hallway and saying hello to him. I will miss Mr. Zartman and there will always be a special place in my heart for him.
- Roe Crawford ’21
It was truly an honor to have been one of Mr. Zartman's students. He was always so passionate about what he taught and so understanding towards his students. You could tell he truly cared about his students by the way he interacted with them. He made it a point to give his students nicknames and to learn the names of everyone who walked by his classroom so he could say hi to them as they passed by. In my junior year when I was really struggling with stress and depression, walking by his classroom and hearing him ask me how I was doing or telling me that everything was going to be alright always brightened up my day and lifted my spirits. Mr. Zartman was truly a great teacher and friend to all. He will be missed dearly and remembered fondly.
- Denise Pan ’20
Mr. Zartman taught me WHAP when I was a sophomore and checked in with me every time I saw him in the hallway long after I had finished taking his course. Mr. Zartman wasn't a great person because he was an amazing teacher; he was an amazing teacher because he was a great person. I feel lucky that Mr. Zartman let his incredible character and personality shine 24/7.
- Mark Trautner ’20
I remeber Mr. Zartman coming into to class the day before he passsed away. Smiling laughing, greeting us like he always did. That really impressed me and left a long lasting mark on em on how to be dedicated and loving to the very end. He chose to see us even though he wasn't doing well, it was what he loved to do, and did it to the best of his ability. I had never really been a big fan of history before this year, but I enjoyed coming into Mr. Zartman's class, because everyday he was cheerful and greeted me with a smile. I will miss him, I was looking forward to coming back into his class senior year, seeing him at graduation. I think we will all miss him.
- Steven Otillar ’22
I met Mr. Zartman before I started St. John's in 2008. He taught my dad for three years and my uncle for two years at Lamar, and they had stayed in close contact since they graduated. So, before I started first grade, I got to meet Mr. Zartman on the St. John's campus. He made me look forward to St. John's and I felt more secure knowing that someone my family cherished so dearly would be across the street at the Upper School. I have to admit that I was a tad bit scared of him because he was so tall. However, this fear slipped away as I got to know Mr. Zartman at foorball games and various school events. When I began Upper School my advisory was one class over from Mr. Zartman's. I remember on the first day of school, Mr. Zartman greeted me with a huge smile. He said, "Abbie-Louise, it's so good to see you on this side of the street! How is your dad and grandma?" He immediately put a smile on my face. In fact, whenever I saw Mr. Zartman I couldn't help but smile. He made me feel so happy. That's why I signed up for Model UN and why I couldn't stop talking about how excited I was to take WHAP sophmore year. Mr. Zartman's WHAP class combined joy and learning in a way I can't describe. Whether it was a music video to help us remember the switch from Constantinople to Istanbul, to elaborate stories about the Ming Dynasty, to his ever present "beaucoups of fun," to his warnings to "stay off the streets" and joyful greeting "I hope you're doing swell," Mr. Zartman made every day shine. That's why when I found out he would become my advisor for my Senior Year, I literally screamed. I was really upset that my advisor Ms. Lopesuarez was leaving, but she wanted us to be her "present" to Mr. Zartman. In reality, he was a present to us. Mr. Zartman brought my advisory little basketball candies for Halloween, wrote us notes for Christmas, and was a faithful advisor and mentor during the college process. It's safe to say that he became one of the most imprtant figures on campus for all of my fellow advisees. He always told us "it'll all work out" and made us laugh when no one else could. The last time I saw Mr. Zartman was on April 13th. He made us laugh then too. We had a "show and tell" for advisory. I brought my baby brother and chickens and Mr. Zartman brought his parakeets. He told us he "dressed up" for us and told us joyous stories about his childhood chickens and pet parakeets. I can't believe that was the last time I saw him, but I'm glad to say that Mr. Zartman was his cheery self who asked us each how we were, how we were keeping active, and he once again made us laugh. I hope Mr. Zartman is having beaucoups of fun in heaven. He will always be with us.
- Abbie-Louise Lord ’20
As fortunate as Wendall’s students were to have him as a gifted and compassionate teacher, I was just as lucky to have had Wendall as a friend since we met as teachers at Lamar HS in 1989. Even after Wendall left Lamar for SJS, we had many lengthy lunches and dinners together and also enjoyable and entertaining phone conversations and texts. Like so many others, I will miss him and his beautiful smile. And he will miss SJS and its students and faculty.
- Sylvia Wagman, Parent of Alumni
Even before I was lucky enough to have Mr. Zartman as a teacher, if I ever walked passed his corner of the quad he would be standing near the doorframe, ready to say hello and ask how I was doing.
- Jack Trent ’19
Never had the pleasure of being in Mr. Zartman's class, but those who had him as a teacher spoke very highly of his knowledge and teaching ability. His warm smile and greetings, easy-going demeanor, and perfectly color coordinated outfits always brightened my day. I have no doubt he inspired many to go into their chosen profession.
- Robert Smith ’12
As a student, I loved Mr. Zartman's class. I so vividly remember his upbeat attitude one class after so many of us had pulled all nighters to finish writing a major paper and another class during a unit on the Cold War when we watched the music video for Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." Mr. Zartman even inspired me to memorize all of the words to that song. That same year he organized a school trip with Barbara DiPaolo and Sharon Fabriz to Eastern Europe where her brought to life so many of the places we had studied in his class. I recently came across a picture of me from that trip with Mr. Zartman photobombing in the background. I so desperately wanted a picture with my beloved teacher, but I was too embarrassed to ask, so I staged the photo without his knowing. Five years ago when I returned to St. John's as a faculty remember, Wendell jokingly told me that he felt like a failure since I was teaching English rather than history. I told him that while I was teaching English (in part a result of a trajectory started by my Teach For America placement a few years prior), I had studied history in college. Mr. Zartman helped build in my a deep love of history, and while so many of my friends were studying more "practical" things like biology, economics, and political science, he helped give me the courage to pursue my passions.
- Elizabeth Rasmussen Carlson ’08, Alumna & SJS Faculty
I was a student of Mr Zartman's at Lamar High School in 1989 and again in 1990. He was an exceptional teacher who I will never forget because, not only did he make the subject matter interesting and applicable, he also brought the best out in you. He liked all his students, and they, universally, liked him in return. I love him and will miss him dearly. God bless Mr. Zartman (I still can't bring myself to use his first name...once a student, always a student...)
- Andrew White, Former Student
Mr. Zartman was the best advisor and an incredible history teacher. Not only did he inspire me to study history beyond St. John's he also instilled in his students a concern for seeing all people and a zeal to search beyond the words of our textbooks to see a greater picture. A few years after graduating from St. John's, I saw Mr. Zartman from across the intersection. I rolled down my window as we drove by to wave hello. Mr. Zartman enthusiastically yelled back "Sah-raww!" Writing this, I am smiling and realizing some memories, however simple and small, just stick with us.
- Sarah Dunlap Turtletaub ’11
When I was freshman, I joined Model UN. That year, I was the only girl in my grade that went to the HAMUN conference. That, coupled with a complete lack of knowledge about both parliamentary procedure and how seriously many people took Model UN, meant I was completely out of my depth. The first day of the HAMUN conference is long; it lasts until 8:30 or 9pm. But when I scrambled to find the SJS group amongst hundreds of kids in blazers at the end of the night, I found them courtesy of an always smiling Mr. Zartman waving at me. "Over here, Kontos." (Mr. Zartman was also the only teacher who always called me Kontos because he knew how complicated it got being one of five Sophie's and Sophia's in my grade). On the bus, Mr. Zartman made a point to check that I'd had a nice day and figured out what was happening in my committee meetings. That first year, he made sure I knew that I had a place in Model UN. By the time I was a senior (and somehow leading Model UN meetings), the club had grown from around 60 people to well over 100. I know that was because Mr. Zartman made everyone feel safe and welcome. He did it for me when I was a scared freshman at HAMUN, he did it for me as a student in 10th grade WHAP, he did it for me everytime I saw him in the halls with a "Hi, Kontos. How are you?" and a smile.
- Sophia Kontos ’19
One of my earliest and fondest high school traditions was simply passing by Mr. Zartman on my way to advisory every morning, when he would always greet me with a warm hello and gentle reminder to tuck in my shirt. When I became one of Mr. Zartman's World History students as a sophomore, I learned to look forward to those classes as well. Mr. Zartman knew how to brighten any student's day and continued to engage with me and my classmates even when we returned from college to visit campus, never failing to ask us how we were doing while showing genuine interest in our endeavors.
- Ryan Chang ’19
One cold Saturday morning in January, I was walking home from Johnnycake when I saw Mr. Zartman in the parking lot. His car had broken down and he was waiting for AAA. While most people would have been in a bad mood in such a situation, Mr. Zartman was as friendly as ever and stopped to ask me how my day was and what specifically I had been building. It's quite admirable that even in his predicament he took such an interest in his students.
- Sebastian Varma ’19
Mr. Zartman saw me at my worst and loved me in spite of it all. It was not uncommon for me to enter his classroom in a terrible mood, overcome with some grotesque mixture of class anxiety, adolescent malaise, and an inexplicably desperate urge to run away and never turn back. But he was always patient with me, always supportive of my ambitions, always willing to listen on the rare occasion that I was willing to talk. He was one of those teachers whom it's easy to take for granted. He wasn't the most theatrical or the most hip. But he exuded a pure passion for his students–not just for our academic enrichment, but for our development into whole people, flaws and all. I wish I had gotten a chance to know him better as an adult. I wish I had gone back to his classroom more. That campus houses so many memories for me, and many of the fondest among them include Mr. Zartman. I'm so thankful to have known him, and I'm shattered to know that he's gone.
- Penny Bailey ’11
We have the same birthday, so we'd always wish each other a happy birthday and call each other "birthday twin," even though I never had him as a teacher. Such a kind man.
- Eli Maierson ’19
Though Mr. Zartman was not my teacher at SJS, I had the privilege of spending time with him on an SJS trip to Italy with my sister Lauren’s class. I remember Mr. Zartman being so welcoming to me from the moment I met him. It was evident on that trip that he was absolutely devoted to his students. Though my interaction with him was relatively brief, my memories of him include laughter, smiles, and kindness. We should all aspire to the same. My sincere condolences to his friends and family.
- David Murdock ’98
I never liked history. In Mr. Zartman's class I came to love history. He just so clearly cared so much about every one of us. He was genuinely one of the best teachers I ever had. If I felt that way, I bet so many others did too. I hope he knew that.
- George Netscher ’09
From the day I visited St. John’s and decided to enroll to the day I shook hands with him on the Quad after Commencement, Mr. Zartman’s heartwarming personality uplifted me. His passion for history was contagious and I enjoyed going to his class each day during my freshman and sophomore years. I am grateful that he saw my full potential as a student and that he encouraged me to participate in the Houston Area Model UN conference. During my junior and senior years, it was a joy to say hi and chat with him in the hallway. I left every interaction with a smile and his optimism put the little things I used to fret about into perspective. Teachers like Mr. Zartman make the St. John’s community incredibly special, and I wish I could thank him one last time. I will always remember him for his lighthearted smile, his remarkable dedication to his students, and his inspiring outlook on life.
- Grace Meng ’19
Mr. Zartman was one of the best men one could ever know. I was so lucky to have him for history twice and go on the first SJS Europe trip w him as well. He was one of a kind, never to be replaced, I love Mr. Zartman.
- Daniel B Lewis ’03
I would like to thank every current/former student and SJS Faculty-Staff, Cafeteria/Security/Janitorial folks, Friends etc. for all your beautiful comments. Today (4/24/20) marks one week of his death.
His Positive Attitude came with Strength and this is exactly how Wendall led his Life. Just like y'all, I, too, shall miss him greatly — but in my Life, he is with me 24/7 because he Lives On!. Wendall Zartman was a real true honest genuine man, a mentor, a friend and the guy next door you want to meet. Since December 08, 1984, it has been 36 wonderful years and I shall cherish those times the rest of my own Life. GOD rules - Amen!
- Mr. Raul Meza, Life Partner
Kind, caring, thoughtful, positive, interesting, witty - these are the words that immediately come to mind when I think of dear Wendall. He was an amazing teacher and is regarded by many of his colleagues as a “teacher’s teacher “. I will miss this gentle soul so very much. Wendall Zartman brightened each of my days at St. John’s School.
- Marg Trares, Former SJS Staff
I passed him frequently in the hallways during the day, and every time, he would smile, shake my hand, and ask how my day was. Such small acts of pure kindness defined the type of man Mr. Zartman was. Every morning he would have a smile on his face. His laugh was pure and powerful. He was a man whose ability to demonstrate love knew no bounds. I have everything to thank Mr. Zartman for. He taught me how to have confidence in myself when I believed the things I wanted to do in my life did not make sense. He taught me how to appreciate friendship and pursue new ones. Through my academic career, I do not think I have met an instructor more passionate and knowledgeable about both life and his subject. When I look forward at the path ahead, it was Mr. Zartman who gave that path clarity. Think about your own life and how Mr. Zartman touched it. Even though Mr. Zartman has passed, his legacy is eternal through the hundreds of kids that he brought positive light into.
- Lucian Bennett-Brandt ’19
My deepest condolences on the passing of Wendall Zartman. I had the pleasure of meeting Wendall about six months ago when he and my cousin Raul came home to Kingsville for a visit. I enjoyed our visit and reminiscing about family and friends. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
- Daniel Salinas Jr., Friend
He was an incredible teacher. He was always going above and beyond.
- Jeff Coburn ’09
“C’mon kids, we have beaucops of things to do”
- Caroline Spears ’13
I never had Mr. Zartman as a teacher, and I don't think he knew me either. However, I have a distinct memory of walking to back to class from the restroom one day. There were very few other people in the hall, and Mr. Zartman was sitting on a bench. At the time, I did not even know who he was, but as I walked past back to my classroom, he cheerfully and meaningfully greeted me. I was taken off guard, and yet I was so impacted that he stopped me even though he didn't even know me. I asked him how he was doing and he did the same for me. Even though I had never met him, I was so touched that he went out of his way to say hi to me. I was also touched that he seemed to care about my wellbeing as he talked to me, once again, to my knowledge without ever having spoken to me before. I took that as a lesson that I could pass that forward to someone else as well.
- Elizabeth Cox ’22
When I was a freshman and decided to take WHAP my sophomore year, I had no idea what I was in for, besides knowing that it was supposed to be quite a difficult course. When I found out I had Mr. Zartman as my teacher, I was told by many classmates that I was so lucky to have a teacher like him, and on my first day of class with him I found out exactly why. Mr. Zartman lit up the Upper School with his smile and overwhelming sense of joy. He never failed to greet me and others in the hallways or to crack a joke in class that would make everyone smile, especially during preparation for the dreaded AP exam. His little anecdotes about seemingly minute details about history made remembering everything so much easier and brought life to the class, even when discussing topics that had occurred tens of thousands of years ago. Mr. Zartman made much of my experience in the Upper School so special, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
- Lily McCullough ’20
My friend Lydia Smith at St. Agnes, had put me in touch with a few SJS folks to help with my transition -- she mentioned Wendall, Amy Malin and Ganesa Collins. Wendall reached out to me early on. Since his classroom was right above college counseling that year, he would often walk through the hall, come to my office to check in on me and give me tips on SJS, at least 1-2 times a week. He invited me to his office and classroom to eat lunch (which I did), he saved a seat for me at faculty meetings since I didn't really know anyone, he sat beside me at games, you name it. He was such a great mentor and friend. We would laugh and chat about students we shared, exchange stories about our mutual friend, Lydia, among other things. Wendall would still come by my office once in a while but it wasn't as frequent as before -- we were further away, he could tell I found my footing but would check in periodically. Then one day, I noticed that he had called twice but left no voicemail (something he usually doesn't do). When I called him, he asked if I was available and said he wanted to see if he could talk with me. I thought it was something serious. He told me, "oh no!" and just said he wanted to chat. We sat, and he told me why he had not come to Faculty of Color Affinity Group meetings and was surprised that he was on the elist to begin with. I explained to him that we received a list of faculty members who identified as a person of color from HR (although we didn't know one's race). He laughed. And then he went on to show me photos of him and his family when he was a child. His mother was from Hawai'i, how he did not have fair skin like the rest of his family, and how growing up in such a segregated and racist period and area in TX, his parents were concerned for Wendall. Wendall and I ended up speaking for over an hour and I remember tearing up while listening to his story and thanking him for sharing it. Anyhow, I was telling someone that Wendall's laughter was like chicken soup for the soul -- he laughed with his whole body!, and that his presence provided joy, a sense of care and belonging in those interactions, and a relationship that we were so grateful to have. I am going to miss him terribly. He was much more than a teacher, colleague, or friend; he was the consummate educator and community builder; he was, in so many ways, the St. John's community lynchpin.
- Jamie Kim, SJS Faculty/Staff
Mr. Zartman and I worked together for over 15 years on many foreign trips he organized through ACIS (American Council for International Studies). I loved assisting with his planning meetings because his joy of teaching was so palpable. He was obviously beloved by parents and students alike. I am heartbroken to hear the news that he passed away recently from cancer. He was the very best of what we all aspire to be as a teacher, and this is a huge loss for the SJS community. My deepest sympathies to his own family and to SJS family.
- Suzanne Phillips Scheve, Educational Travel Colleague from ACIS
Mr. Zartman was my favorite teacher at SJS. His contagious humor and goodwill were motivators that allowed me to succeed during my time here. From Chess club, Model UN, Summer Express, or even simply being in his world history courses for two years allowed me to see what a truly wonderful man he was. He will forever be an inspiration to everyone whose life he touched and I am thankful that I was lucky enough to have known Mr. Zartman.
- Angel Casillas ’16
What a wonderful teacher, Mr Zartman was! I had the privilege have having him as my government teacher at Lamar High School, class of 1978. He as a fun, smart, caring and great teacher. My fondest memory is doing a skit in class and I played an attorney. It was a great experience! I loved his smile and the love that he had for his students and his job. I can see see him, that big smile and that jet black hair!! The world has lost a great man and teacher! God bless his soul. Will keep him and his entire family in my prayers. Love you Mr. Zartman!
- Veronica Magdaleno, Lamar High School ‘78
Mr. Zartman was my 10th grade history teacher at Lamar High School. I loved his class and I learned so much from him. He was always so patient and kind with all of his students. I never thought I would end up teaching at the same school with him years later. He was just as beloved at St. John's as he was at Lamar. I truly enjoyed getting to know Mr. Zartman as my colleague. He was always looking out for me and so many others on campus. I will truly miss seeing him in the hallways when we return to campus.
- Sherifa Meguid Kehs, SJS Faculty/Staff
Too many memories. He always encouraged my passion to draw. Never raised his voice, and the most kind person you could ever meet.
- Caro, nephew
Everyone has their personal heroes in life. They may be movie stars, music icons, artists, authors, or royalty. St. John’s had Wendall. When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure. How could he not be a treasure when he treated everyone as if they were the most important person in the universe. No matter his struggles he worried about yours. I will miss his cheerful smile and laugh.
- Audrey Fussell, SJS Faculty/Staff
I first met Mr. Zartman at the freshman retreat. As a new student that didn’t know anybody at the school, freshman retreat was an anxiety inducing experience. Yet, my first conversation with Mr. Zartman immediately put my fears to rest. He was extremely welcoming and showed genuine interest in hearing about me and my experiences. During freshman year, he would always greet me by name in the hallways and ask how my classes and sports were going. His kindness and remembrance of not only my name but also what I was involved in was a hugely positive factor in my first year at St. John’s. I was lucky enough to have him for sophomore history where he continued to show his characteristic kindness. Throughout my years at St. John’s Mr. Zartman would always strike up a conversation whenever he saw me in the hallways where he showed genuine interest in hearing what I had to say. Mr. Zartman will be remembered for his genuine kindness and as the person who first made me feel genuinely appreciated and welcome at St. John’s.
- Travis Bouchard ’20
Mr. Zartman will forever be one of my favorite teachers. I still think about his kind nature and enthusiasm for teaching (he even let my group impersonate him in a video for a project). He was an amazing teacher and a wonderful person. We will miss you, Mr. Zartman.
- Lexie Farnell ’20
Wendall taught both of my sons at Lamar, which is where I first met him. At the same time, we both would be attending Houston Council of Social Studies meetings and we would work together on projects or go to Professional Development events. After Wendall moved to St John’s I thought I would lose contact with him so I was surprised when he called me toward the end of his first year. There was an opening in the Middle School and he encouraged me to apply. After six years in the Middle School he asked me if I knew anyone who was looking for a job in Upper School. My first reaction was “what about me?” He was surprised but said “yes.” So, I have Wendall to thank for both my employment at St. John’s and my position in the Upper School. He was so easy to work with and will be greatly missed.
- Barbara DiPaolo, SJS Faculty/Staff
It's hard to write about just one memory of Mr. Zartman. From his being my history teacher sophomore year to being the host of the chess club to just randomly running into him in the hallways, Mr. Zartman always put a smile on my face no matter how bad I might've been feeling that day. But the one memory I want to talk about is during my eighth-grade shadowing day. I had just gotten accepted into St. John's and I was shadowing, then-freshman at the time, Gregory Dayao. Greg had some sort of meeting or something that I couldn't follow him to, so I sat in on Mr. Zartman's class instead. That one class session alone was the biggest factor in my decision to choose St. John's. Mr. Zartman's connection with his class was clear, and his connection to each student individually was so special. His love and passion for his lessons and his students was so obvious that it made me desire what he gave. Because of this one class session, I decided to attend St. John's and became the person I am today. I hope that I can one day be as much an inspiration and source of joy for my friends and family as Mr. Zartman was for his students and colleagues.
- Benny He ’19
We loved Mr. Zartman (Winnie) at Lamar. He was an engaging and supportive teacher. You are missed Mr. Z
- Kara Galli, Parent of Alumni
I was blessed to have this man in my life . I was a young boy and then he came into our family lives. A kind, respectable, highly intelligent and one of a kind. I thank god to have known him and I truly will miss him!
- Fernando Villarreal, family member
The passing of Wendall Zartman this morning profoundly saddens me. He remains one of the most influential figures in my life, helping me to realize my passions of global history and international relations and develop a genuine joy for learning. Mr. Zartman always believed in me in all aspects of my life, motivating me to achieve my best academically and pushing me to strive for greater personal goals.
Mr. Zartman was an incredible mentor. Countless times before and after my graduation from St. John's, I reached out to him seeking advice and guidance. "Kiko (a nickname Mr. Zartman called me)," He would say with a smile, "What brings you in today?" After my rant about the current problem I was facing, he always found a way to change my outlook on the given situation filling me with hope and positivity. Mr. Zartman always had time for me. I knew I could come to him with anything, and he would do everything in his power to support me. Whether that was through my doubts on getting into college, offering to write me countless recommendation letters, encouraging me to speak at the chapel and giving my chapel introduction, or just providing a warm smile. I am truly fortunate to have known such an incredible and inspiring individual. I know that the kindness that he bestowed upon me was shown to all of his students and that he had a tremendous impact on their lives as well. His life deserves to be celebrated through the countless people he helped shape and change for the better through his actions out of genuine kindness and love."
- Henry Philpott ’18