Jon is an award winning educator, an author and educational consultant. He was a 2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year finalist and has a long personal history with pain. The first comic books Jon remembers reading were X-Men 190 & 191, guest starring Spider-Man. Ironically, there was a line in X-Men where Spider-Man was being tortured in which he says, “I didn’t think it’s be possible to hurt this much.” This line was pretty much the same thing Jon said during an event after suffering nerve damage from a bulging herniated disc that led to the creation of Dolorem.
That experience reading comics led to a lifelong passion for this form of storytelling, reading whatever comics he could access. He became a more serious collector of comics in 1986 with X-Men 236. Jon sold his lunch tickets to be able to afford new comics off the newsstand every week. The references in those books inspired him to track down the referenced source material in comics from ancient myths, historical documents, and religious texts. The connections to the real-world and the mythological continued to draw him in; and the metaphors present in those stories helped him process and see connections to issues around equity, civil rights, politics, science, and the human condition. This education led to Jon’s passion for literature and resulted in becoming an English teacher, gravitating toward finding the most challenging teaching environments. Jon has worked in traditional a public school, a Catholic middle school, alternative schools for students who struggle, recovery schools for students battling addiction, and in online education. Jon has taught grades from second grade through college, and later focused his work in the middle and high school settings.
Jon is driven to prove that change is possible for individuals and for antiquated systems that are cemented in our educational practices. Because of this, Jon has led work on Open Educational resources, equity initiatives in districts; he leads work on accessibility, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. His focus on ensuring equitable treatment for marginalized populations drives his work on the integration of Artificial Intelligence in education, a topic on which he has written three books. He presents on topics related to all of these issues around the country to thousands of other educators.
His connection to comic books has been an ever-present part of his educational journey, from working on comics with friends in high school to sell to peers, to suggesting books for students who were struggling to find their places, all the way toward understanding and healing from his own chronic condition. Dolorem is the culmination of those experiences and is the story Jon wants to share and tell because he knows that others can find their own connections and community through it as well.