Teacher Returns To Alma Mater, Pens Book About Teaching

After more than 20 years in North Carolina, school teacher A.J. Bucon’s mid-life epiphany led him back to the hallowed halls of his alma mater — Wheeling Central Catholic High School

It was a compilation of experiences since returning to Central, not as a student, but as a teacher, that prompted Bucon to go from blogger (Time and Space) to full-fledged author. Bucon has written of his life experiences of both years gone by at Central and his return at the head of the English class in a book titled, “My Corner of the World, Life Lessons From the Classroom.”

“I have always been drawn to writing and I was able to write this book through a wonderful group of kids. It was surreal, finding my way back from a teacher’s side,” Bucon said.

Throughout the 191 pages, Bucon opens up about his own “dark time” in his life, to the renewed faith in God and his fellow man. From the first day of preparing his classroom with his niece Emily there to help, he also finds friendship and encouragement with a fellow teacher who shares his love for music and enlightening students.

A native of Wheeling with family still here, Bucon returned to the Friendly City in 2012 and accepted the teaching job at Central.

However, it was the events in his life since returning to Central that spurred him to write his book in 2017. He had lost a close friend, fellow teacher and coach Jamey Conlin to cancer. He had moved from the comforts of his North Carolina surroundings that included his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. He said he was at a crossroad in his life with no clear path selected. Today, he is on firm ground.

Bucon said he has always had a passion for writing and wrote nearly two chapters a month before finishing this insightful, sometimes witty look at education through the eyes of student-turned-teacher. He writes about the teachers, now and then, the classrooms, canned food drives, football games, and of course, the students.

While he mentions students only by first names, Bucon credits them with being the impetus for writing the book. He wrote of finding “a kindred spirit between himself and a group of high school students.” Together they find their way in life within Central’s “unique community.”

Bucon graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1982 and from West Liberty State College in 1986. He moved to Wilson, North Carolina, where he taught for 21 years at Ralph L. Fike High School. He has been a National Board Certified teacher since 2011 and was recognized as Wilson County Schools Teacher of the Year in 2001, WTVD11 Neighborhood Hero — Educator of the Year in 2002, and received the Bonnie McKeever Roberts Award for Excellence in Education in 2016.

Bucon’s book can be purchased online via Amazon. Copies also may be obtained at the Wheeling Artisan Center, 14th and Main streets, or by calling the center at 304-232-1810. Bucon has made a limited number of signed copies available at St. Michael Parish Office, 1225 National Road, Wheeling, with $5 going to the youth group for each one sold.

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