Northwood Faculty Hall of Fame
“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.“ Few educators have better embodied this maxim than Erl Hardy, who taught social science and coached hockey at Northwood. After practicing law for about twenty years in Portland, Maine, he left the bar to become a teacher at Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire. Ed Good, then our Head, was a Bowdoin College classmate of both Erl and me (Erl and his twin brother, Steve, and I were on the football team; the twins and Ed played hockey). Ed coaxed Erl to Northwood to coach our second hockey team and teach social sciences.
Erl was an excellent teacher in his time here; his elective offerings ranged from Irish history to law. Patient and reflective himself, he gave the kids plenty of space to think critically and respectfully hear each other out. He was a dynamic listener, not just in the classroom but in his living room. Students gravitated to him because, like Gatsby’s narrator, Nick Carraway, he was “inclined to reserve all judgments” as “a matter of infinite hope.” The kids loved being with him because his faith in them helped them find faith in themselves.
Whether as a teacher or coach, his patience led to impressive results. He emphasized showing over scolding. He never made the lesson or the game about himself, which led the class or team to feel obligated to learn or to win for him. He didn’t see anger as a helpful tool to inspire achievement; his gentle reminders to a student that he or she could be better were enough.
In 2010, the senior class dedicated the Epitome to him: Kind, caring, and tenderhearted, Mr. Hardy has had a constant and positive influence on our lives at Northwood over these few years. Whether discussing options for college, reviewing tricky tactics before our next game, or simply talking about friends and family, Hardy has always shown undeniable interest in everything that we do. Not only is he respected by his fellow teachers, his students’ respect for him –- as a coach, advisor, and teacher – is immeasurable. We will remember Mr. Erland Hardy for his lighthearted jokes, his soft speech, and his great big smile.
Nowadays, well into a retirement split between Arizona and Maritime Canada, Mr. Hardy is indeed well remembered by his former students, as attested to by the many requests I get to pass on their best to one of our best.