Remembering those who left us in 2016: Scott Dutton

Scott Dutton at The 602 Club, April 2015, Appleton

The first time I met Scott Dutton, a fellow teacher at Renaissance School for the Arts, I picked him up at his charming brick house, along with his drums.  When the students came to happiness class that afternoon, I told them how excited I was because the drum circle was going to be so fun.  Scott leaned on his drum and growled to the students, “Whenever someone tells me I’m going to have fun, that pretty much guarantees that I won’t.”

Scott was confrontational and challenging.  He loved drama, and I didn’t, adding to his fun.  I was the new writing teacher, hired because he had quit, though not because he didn’t want to teach, but only to prove a point.   

I was struggling, trying to figure out how to critique the students’ writings.  Scott asked me pointedly, “But do you love them?”  And it freaked me out and got into my head, and I ended up not talking to him again for a year. 

Later, when we became friends again, I referred to it, and he said, “You didn’t talk to me for a whole year?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Why not?” 

“Because you asked me if I love the students.”  We laughed about that for a long time.

When Scott laughed, which was often, he laughed with his whole soul. 

“I used to be a really big guy,” he once told me, because I only knew him as a stooped ill man, nearly coming to his end one afternoon walking from his car to my house.  He stood in my living room with his arms held open and his chest lifted to the sky.  “This is how I get it going again,” he wheezed about his temperamental heart.

Scott was not afraid of dying.

Nothing meant more to him than his students. 

The craziest conspiracy theory he ever told me was that our DNA is actually the invention of aliens who are breeding us and harvesting our energy.  “You mean, you don’t know that’s true?” he asked, concerned for my mental wellbeing.

He gave me the courage to be a more honest and open teacher.  And for that I will always be grateful. 

Whenever I think of Scott, I feel like celebrating. 

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