Today surprised me with someone I have not seen in several years and a person whom I always looked up to, Mr. John Porter. For those of you who don’t know Mr. Porter was the principle at TC Williams High School from 1984 till 2006… 22 amazing years. He is a native to Alexandria and was brought up through Alexandria City Public Schools system. After college he came back to Alexandria and work at the schools. To find someone who has dedicated so much time and has really made an impact to students is a real hidden gem. He always knew peoples names and even their family. He was also there for some of the most scary and dangerous moments in our high school career and he really helped us through them. He was there for us during 9/11, the DC Sniper, terrifying hurricanes, and even the deaths of some of my fellow students. He was a rock to us and I greatly admire him.
I have many fond memories with Mr. Porter. In the mornings once I was in 11th grade I was given the rank of 2nd Lt and the position of S-1 in my JROTC unit and would go to his office with Dean Muhtadi and preform the morning announcements. He was always cheerful and making jokes with us and was someone we could open up to and have discussions with. April fools day was always interesting in the office and I can’t remember exactly but lets just say a few jokes were pulled. I also remember him briefing the JROTC unit on the shelter in place drills during the DC sniper attacks. He was calm cool and kept us feeling that even though someone is terrorizing us we need to proceed and keep on going.
There was another time and this one holds a special place in my mind, it was my senior year and I was just promoted to Battalion Commander in charge of all of the JROTC cadets. The next day I was in my class and Mr. Porter came on the announcements and personally announced my promotion and congratulations. Later on that day I met with him and I received and note from him saying how proud he was and that I will do some good things. Everyone knew of his notes and letters to students and those where a real treasure if you received one. That moment when you receive recognition from your role model is something you will always hold close and I still have that note safe and periodically look back at it.
Ofcourse there were some times when I messed up and I had to have a talk with him. One of those times I had skipped and I was told by him that I shouldn’t be doing it and that mistakes like that can harm your future. That talk did help a lot and I always thought I was being watched closely by him which made me work harder at everything. In the long run once I graduated and received my diploma from Mr. Porter, I was happy and know I made him proud. I don’t know a single student that did not respect or love having Mr. Porter as our principle.
After Mr. Porter left the principle position at TC, he worked at the central office for a few more years. He has always been dedicated to the students and making sure that we have a great education. I know he is still very active in many programs the city has including Kelly Cares and ACT. He also was at every school event, game, and charity showing his support to his titans. Having close to 40 years as a teacher, mentor and principle he has bee there to guide several generations of students and is a real legend in Alexandria. As principle of TC he has gone through 44,000 titans and making them feel good and proud about themselves. If I had to chose between a private school and TC with Mr. Porter at the reigns, I would choose TC every time. Even to the future I want to make sure my children are in the good and dedicated hands that care about the students in the public school system because we didn’t turn out half bad. We have students that go into professional sports including the olympics, doctors and phd students, and even students that have the passion to help others who can not help themselves. Mr Porter taught us a lot and will always be a role model to a lot of his combined 38 years of students.
A quote from Dana Lawhorne, Sheriff and long-time friend and student of John Porter; “John Porter typifies the spirit of the Marian Van Landingham Award: He has dedicated not only his professional life to the well-being of Alexandrians but has lived and breathed commitment to this community through volunteer service.” You can also read another article to give you a more of a detailed idea about Mr. Porter, the above is just my accounts and my thoughts about a wonderful man.