Hometown: Greece, New York
Education: Hartwick College—B.A., University of Rhode Island—M.A.
Year Appointed: 1972
Current Position: Upper School History Teacher, Assistant Director of the Upper School, and Head Varsity Golf Coach
Ringing of the bells and Graduation, which coincidentally mark the beginning and the end of each school year.
What is the biggest difference in students today versus when you started teaching at NCS?
Students now are more aware of global situations. I think that has a lot to do with the advances in technology and communication over the years, as well as our recent introduction of a global studies curriculum. Other than that they are pretty similar, they dress a little different, but they have the same desires and fears as the students I had in the beginning.
Who was your mentor when you first started teaching at North Cross?
I had several for different reasons. Billy Northcross Ellis was in administration when I started, she helped with my transition moving to Roanoke from Rhode Island. She was all about southern charm and helped me fit in to a more southern community... and kept me out of trouble. My teaching inspiration was Nelle Gardner, who taught English in the middle school, which is where I was teaching at the time. She had a great passion for the students and shared her love of teaching with me and other new faculty members like Dave Calvert and Hugh Meager. And finally, Gates DeHart, who was a seasoned veteran of two years when I started. I respected him as a teacher but most of all admired him for his ethical standards and standing up for what he believed in.
Tell me about your soccer background at North Cross and in the Roanoke Valley.
I was hired in 1972 by John Tucker, not only to teach middle school history, but also to start a soccer program at North Cross. In 1975, after a couple of cold, but successful seasons at North Cross (soccer was a winter sport at the time, November–March), I was approached by the Director of Parks and Recreation, Owen Grogan, to start a soccer program in Roanoke City. With the help of NCS parents, like Prill Prillaman, Carl Bivens, Steve Bodley, and George Logan, we started a successful program in the city. A few years after that I helped start the programs in Roanoke County, with Gary Huff, and another in Salem, with Bruce Mann. There soon became a need for more competition and Bodley and I, along with John Sarber, started a travel program which became Roanoke Stars. Soon after that Stars spread into adjoining areas and people like Cecil Hoyt helped develop soccer in the James River and Botetourt areas, and the programs have continued to grow and become what they are today.
You have had such a successful career at North Cross and in the Roanoke Valley. What is the one thing you want all of your students to take away from you as their teacher, coach, and mentor?
Well, first of all, I would not have been able to accomplish any of this without my wife of 46 years, Nancy, and the support from rest of my family, but the one thing I hope all of my students know, is that if you work hard, you succeed. I think to challenge my students to be better, a lesson I learned from many, but recently from Michael Fitzsimmons, one of the finest teachers that I have had the privilege of working with.