Teaching was his calling

Littmann’s legacy extends beyond classroom walls


Photo by file photo

2016 graduate Cooper Zverina prepares to show government teacher John Littmann his project. Littmann assigned an annual government scavenger hunt project to his students during his teaching career.

Story by Eryn McDonald, guest writer

His mustache was legendary.

He never wore the same tie twice in one year.

He loved the Beatles, his dog and his car named Rita.

Government teacher John Littmann made an indelible impression on those who sat in his classroom, whether it was from his storytelling techniques, witty humor or ability to ignite a passion for politics.

“Mr. Littmann was a one-of-a-kind person that truly enjoyed living,” 2017 graduate Tye Shelton said. “He showed me a different view on how the world works along with how to perceive people themselves.”

Littmann, 65, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at East Memorial Chapel – Moores Lane. Family will receive friends from 2-3 p.m.

Littmann retired in 2016, although he continued to teach dual credit government and Texas government part time until he became ill in March of 2018.

Senior Brady Moore is one of the few students on campus who had Littmann. He took Texas government when he was a junior.

“Mr. Littmann had the best mustache any human could ever have,” Moore said. “He gave me so much knowledge and wisdom in the short time that I had him, and he will stick with me forever and have a special place in my heart. I know he is up there and looking down on me, watching out for me.”

Littmann was one who looked out for his students both academically and personally.

“When my grandfather died and I took a few days off from school, he was very nice and helped me through my really hard time,” 2018 graduate Kamryn Hamilton said. “He was one of the only teachers who talked me through it. To this day, I couldn’t believe he was there for me and told me it would be better.”

He often stood outside his door between classes and greeted those who passed him with a smile.

“Mr. Littmann showed me how to take whatever position you have in life and make the most of it and make a difference in any way possible,” 2016 graduate Tyler Snell said. “He never failed to stand outside his door between classes and smile at the many students that passed by. Some were in his class and some didn’t know his name. But it didn’t matter. He was going to make the best of the day and spread that to anyone around.”

His students left his classroom with much more than knowledge of amendments and governmental policies.

“To know John Littmann was to know a great man,” Shelton said. “What made him so great is not the minds he touched but the hearts of the students he came in contact with over the years. He not only groomed knowledgeable students, but you left his classroom a better person.”

Photo by file photo
Government teacher John Littmann stands ready for grade submitted government projects. Littmann taught at Texas High for over 20 years.

Known for his lecture-style of teaching, Littmann duplicated the college atmosphere in his classroom.

“He was the one teacher that really prepared me for college. The way his class was set up and the way he taught is done the same way at [Louisiana Tech],” 2019 graduate Laurel Wakefield said. “He had his lecture, but he wrote the important things on the board so you could morph your own notes. He really wanted to prepare us for college.”

The life lessons his students learned went well beyond any curriculum.

“He legitimately cared about each of us and was invested in our lives,” 2014 graduate Josh Klein said. “I honestly took more away from my conversations with him about all sorts of random topics than just about anything in the AP government curriculum. He was a charismatic, eccentric and inspiring person that really shaped how I turned out as an all-around person.”

Martha and Josh Morriss Mathematics & Engineering Elementary School principal Brandy Debenport had Littmann her senior year for economics and government and as a UIL coach.

“I feel like he really believed in me when I had a hard time believing in myself,” said Debenport, who graduated in 1995. “He encouraged me to be ‘me,’ to follow my heart and do what I wanted, [and] not to do what the crowd was doing. I loved that about him. He saw talents in students that they didn’t think they had.”

Debenport said Littmann influenced her decision to become an educator.

“He really is one of the main reasons that I am an educator,” Debenport said. “I thought if I could be that teacher for a kid, if I could make an impact in one kid’s life like he made in mine, that it would be all worth it.”

In a 2016 interview about his upcoming retirement, Littmann described how much he enjoyed his job.

“This is the most fun I have ever had in my life. I love teaching,” Littmann said. “I’m not sure I want to leave this. I can’t wait to get here. I love doing this.”

With a teaching career of more than 20 years, the impact he had is immeasurable.

“He has been that difference-maker for more kids than anybody could count,” Debenport said. “I believe that we all have a calling in our lives. I believe teaching was his calling. I think he really fulfilled that calling beyond anything most people achieve. He poured his whole heart and soul into it.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the John Littmann scholarship fund through the Texarkana Public Schools Foundation, 4241 Summerhill Road, Texarkana, TX 75503, or to a charity of choice.