As 70-year-old Vietnam veteran-turned-teacher Jim O’Connor wrote yet another seemingly impossible algebra equation on the whiteboard, his students exchanged puzzled looks. They knew by now that he was a tough taskmaster. But after a day of setting grueling calculus challenges, little did they know where the uncompromising O’Connor headed after class.
In fact, O’Connor had built up a reputation amongst the students of St. Francis High School, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, as not exactly being the warm and fuzzy type. “It drives me crazy when people say that school should be fun,” he told CBS News. “I mean, it’s nice if it could be, but you can’t make school fun.”
Nonetheless, he was certainly respected by his class for his undeniable academic knowledge and no-nonsense approach. Yet O’Connor didn’t strike the boys he taught as having much of a soft side. “If you look at the clock, you’re on his bad list for the rest of class,” student Michael Tinglof told the Los Angeles Times.