NUTLEY, NJ - John Suffren is a renaissance man who has truly lived a fairytale life. He is a Nutley icon full of amazing stories drawn from fascinating real-life experiences.
He recently welcomed a new member into his household and that’s the basis of his second book. The 300-page offering, Still Reaching, follows Sam Boateng’s harrowing journey from Ghana, Africa, all the way to Suffren’s home in Nutley.
Suffren grew up in Wanamie, PA, a small unincorporated community in Luzerne County. After graduating from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA, he moved to Nutley in 1956.
John taught mathematics at Nutley High School for 47 years, retiring in 2003. He served as varsity wrestling coach and led the school’s only state champion John Monaco to the title in 1962. He also coached baseball, bowling and was the original Drivers Education instructor.
“My goal as wrestling coach was to teach the boys to be gentleman first, then teach them how to wrestle,” Suffren recalled. “That was always the basis of my teachings…how to be kind and respectful above all else.”
Over the past few years, Suffren began to put his tremendous tales into writing and he’s become the talk of the town once again. Still Reaching is such a compelling story sure to strike every emotion.
“Sam Boateng bravely fled Africa in January 2014 at the age of 15 with only a few dollars in his pocket,” said Suffren. “He was lucky enough to strike up a friendship with a boat captain who let him stow away on a long three-month trek enduring many stops before settling in Panama.”
Boateng, who turned 19 years old on December 30, wasn’t sure that he would survive, let alone find a place he could ever call home.
“He ultimately made his way to San Diego, then Chicago, and finally, my home,” Suffren said. “Once I heard about his situation, the process in which I was able to take him in transpired rather quickly.”
The much-anticipated Still Reaching book signing takes place this Thursday, February 15, 7:00 pm at Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive.
“My books are a collection of personal stories, anecdotes, poems, hymns and letters of my past students, and I will share these memories with everyone Thursday at the library,” added Suffren.
Suffren spoke about Sam’s story during and engagement at Vincent United Methodist Church in Nutley last Sunday, February 4, where he has been a member of the congregation for over 30 years.
“I estimate that in my 47 years of teaching and coaching, I have taught over 100,000 students, and one of my proudest accomplishments is that I gave Sam Boateng sanctuary,” Suffren told the gathering at Vincent Church.
Since retiring from Nutley High School, Suffren remains a very active member within the community and is also a member of Park Methodist Church in Bloomfield.
is available now at XulonPress.com with proceeds from the book donated to Sam’s family, who are still struggling mightily in Africa. For information about Thursday’s book signing, visit NutleyPublicLibrary.org or call 973-667-0405
His first book, The Striving Reach, is a loose autobiography recalling the tales of the positive individuals he encountered along the way during his half-century of teaching, coaching and mentoring.
The tireless Suffren just completed his third book, which is on its way to his publisher for a spring 2018 release. A fourth book is already in the early planning stages.
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