25 Questions: The Grammar Man Himself, John Baylor

Getting to know the man beyond the video screen

Photo by KLIN

Lily Yates, Quintessence Copy Editor

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There is but a single, fervent “Hammer the Grammar” authority in the world, and his name is John Baylor. He’s the one man who has almost single-handedly managed to revolutionize how around 350 Skutt Catholic students – and those through the years – study for the ACT.

His bombastic voice is a daily presence for every sophomore and junior in the school through speakers, and he’ll make his live return to the gym on April 7. But do we actually know anything about the man behind the ties (besides how quickly he can do geometry)? This week, The Flightline sat down to uncover the real, unembellished John Baylor with another round of 25 questions.

Do you have a nickname?

In high school: Bayles. In adulthood: JB.

How would your best friend describe you?

Wacky, generous, persuasive, and determined.

What are you reading right now?

“Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance. I just finished “Over Time” by Frank Deford—a great sports book.

What is your most marked characteristic?

​Physical—my nose. My children make fun of it a lot.

Behavioral—irreverence, also known as my wacky humor. It’s tough for me to be serious for very long.

What is your favorite story about something a student has said or done?

I always laugh when students start to mimic (and mock) my voice in class, which is basically the low volume version of a yell. Also, near the end of our JBP ACT Prep course once, a student asked me what I did for a living.

Which word or phrase do you overuse?

Back to this!

What is your favorite place to eat?

The Black Crow in Beatrice.

What song are you listening to right now?

Allentown by Billy Joel– the live version, which I recorded at his recent show in Lincoln.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what 2 items would you take with you?

A big hat to protect me from the sun and a copy of the book “The Big House” by George Howe Colt, which is a best seller about my mother and her family. I love a great story by a master writer, and this story has plenty of personal meaning for me.

If you could live in any country, which would it be?

The USA!

Can you briefly describe what a day in the life of John Baylor is like?

My daughter and I go to work out most mornings at 6 a.m. Then my wife and I drive our three children to their schools. I’ll then head off to teach at some school. I’ll often find a coffee shop with wifi during the day to do some work between classes. I’ll also be in regular touch with members of our JBP team by phone during the day. Then at night, I’m with my family, calling a Nebraska Volleyball game, or teaching at Millard West or Westside. I also sneak in as much tennis and golf as possible.

If you were a tree, what kind would you be?

A Bur Oak or a Magnolia.

How many hours of sleep do you get per night?

About six (not enough).

What is your motto?

Have fun and make a difference!

What would be an evening of perfect happiness for you?

Going to the musical Hamilton with my entire family (my daughters are nuts about that show, though we’ve never seen it). In the meantime, going out for a great meal with my family and then attending a musical is pure joy for me. I’m a crier at movies and musicals– especially musicals.

What is your favorite out of all hobbies you do outside school?

I love playing tennis.

What was your favorite subject in school?

I loved history.

Can you tell me about some of the other jobs you’ve had?

I’ve been a paper boy, a bus boy, a waiter, a banker, an actor, a telemarketer, a talk show host, a sportscaster, and an unpaid stand-up comic.

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

Helping my brother become self-sufficient.

Where are you in the family birth order?

I’m number five of six children.

What object do you love most in the world?

The Arc de Triomphe and the Jefferson Memorial truly move me.

Dogs or cats?

Cats—we have two: Skittles and Henry.

How often do you go out to eat?

Because I’m out teaching so often, I eat out about 4 times week, at least—too much. I love a meal with family around the table at home.

What smell reminds you of when you were a kid?

The leather smell of a baseball glove. In my youth I had one of those on all the time.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or that you particularly want to say?

I searched throughout my twenties to find what I really wanted to do with my life. I tried banking, stand-up comedy, acting, sportscasting, and teaching. It seems that young people today are in such a rush to find a career and a spouse. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

It takes time to find your color in the rainbow.

Lily Yates - Quintessence Editor-in-Chief

Lily became a member of The Flightline in August of 2015. She is a senior this year and enjoys an array of activities including choir, theatre and slam poetry. She is also on staff as a library aide at the Omaha Public Library. You can email her at [email protected]