Local Christian school teacher authors first book
Ocean View resident Joseph Scott has lived through many brushes with death throughout his life. In his first book, “Hello, Joe,” he recounts those experiences and tells the story of how, he said, he was shown the way to God and to figure out why he’s here.
“It’s not really a memoir. It’s more or less my Christian testimony,” explained Scott. “I grew up with a lot of false teaching. I’ve had several brushes with death throughout my life.”
One of those brushes, Scott recalled, was when he was in his 40s, living in New York City.
“I was in a hellacious car accident. I had a Honda Civic and was sitting at a stop sign at the FDR Drive, and a kid stoned out of his mind plowed into the back of me driving a big Pontiac, and never touched the brakes. It totaled my car, ripped the seat out of my car — I ended up in the back seat… And I walked away from it.”
Although he miraculously walked away, seemingly unharmed, from the accident, Scott said he did have some sciatic nerve pain and even had discs removed as a result.
It wasn’t until two years later, when he thought he was having a heart attack, when he found out his neck had been broken.
“They did all these X-rays… My doctor found out that I had been walking around for two years with a broken neck. I’d been taking terrible falls skiing. I was scuba diving. I was doing all this stuff while my spinal cord was a fraction of a fraction of an inch from my spinal column,” he recalled.
He later went to a spinal surgeon Patrick O’Leary on Park Avenue.
“I remember he said to me, ‘I can figure two things — you’ve got very strong neck muscles, and you’ve been walking under a star.’ I just started to reflect and started to search.”
Scott said he read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” three times. Then, he said, he was moved to ask his now-wife, Priscilla, to marry him.
“Then I asked Priscilla to marry me, and she said, ‘I think you better get into a Bible study.’ And I did,” he recalled. “In the middle of Manhattan, which is not the likeliest place to find a meaningful Bible study, I found one. I was invited into it by a mutual friend of ours, and that’s where I was saved.”
The title of his book, “Hello, Joe,” came from the conversation that brought him to the Bible study.
“When our friend Bob called me to invite me to the Bible study, he said, ‘Hello Joe,’” Scott recalled. “‘I don’t know where you happen to be in your faith walk at the moment, but a bunch of guys are putting together a Bible study in midtown Manhattan and were wondering if you’d like to get involved.’ That’s where the title came from.”
“Hello, Joe” recounts how various moments in Scott’s life eventually led him to Delaware, to teach at Delmarva Christian High School.
Prior to moving to Delaware, Scott and his wife owned a marketing company in New York City, which closed after Sept. 11, 2011.
“We were thinking of retiring in Delaware, so we just moved the calendar up,” he explained, noting that Priscilla had family in the area. “She found the job at the South Coastal Library, and I think it was the very same month, while I was doing freelance work in Annapolis, she saw a story in the paper about this new Christian school that was going to open up. She convinced me to give them a call.”
Scott, a journalist who had written for more than 50 major magazines and newspapers, including New York magazine, McCall’s and Good Housekeeping, said he didn’t think the school would want him.
“They hired me two weeks before the school opened and told me I’d be teaching all four grades, 26 books,” he said with a laugh. “Most of which I hadn’t read, and those that I had, I did back in my college days.”
Scott said he believes that his calling is to teach children, from which he derives a great deal of pride and pleasure.
“I think really my whole ragged life plan is God’s way of getting me into Delmarva Christian High School to teach kids how to read and write and understand literature through a scriptural lens,” he said. “I love it. I was born to it. The kids, I love the ‘ah-ha’ moments when their eyes widen and they say, ‘I get it.’”
Serving as the lead English teacher for the school, Scott said he’s able to enjoy teaching young minds, and now telling his story in his new book.
“Folks from the school and from my church, Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church, have been very enthusiastic. Some people — many I don’t know — have even taken the time to write reviews. The response has been good so far.”
“Hello, Joe” has been sold to readers throughout the country, from Delaware to Florida to California.
“People are taking a personal message from it, and they’ve commented on the quality of the writing. I’ve just been very humbled by it all,” he said.
Scott, who recently received his master’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Delaware, also hopes to publish a collection of short stories at the end of this year.
“For my master’s, I was able to do a project, rather than a thesis,” he explained. “I wrote a collection of eight short stories, set historically in and around Ocean View, Bethany Beach, Lewes, Ocean City… After I wrote those eight, I worked with a really great writing professor, David Teague. I now have 20 or 21 and am getting ready to sometime this year publish it, I hope.”
Scott said the stories are set from the middle of the 17th century to the present day, and were written following a great deal of historical research.
“Women were horribly treated in the in the 17th, 18th centuries… Especially around here — they were treated like chattel,” he said. “There’s so much about the history that I never even realized that I’ve been able to wrap stories around.”
Scott said he hopes those who read his book are touched by God, and perhaps inspired to work on their own testimony.
“I hope they come to see Jesus as their savor and welcome him as their Lord. Some of the stories I’ve told my students over the years have worked their way into chapters. It was an effort of love for me,” he said. “I think it’s a good read. It moves quickly, and I tried to keep the chapters balanced. There’s some great fun in it, too.”
“Hello, Joe” may be purchased in paperback format, as well as for Kindle at www. amazon.com and for Nook at www.barnesandnoble.com.