It was wonderful. I grew up on a lake in West Hartford, Connecticut. We swam and sailed all summer. No motor boats allowed. Every winter the lake would freeze which allowed us to skate and play hockey. There was a golf course at the end of the lake with a big hill that we used as a ski slope in the winter months. It was like having a ski resort in my backyard. My love for hockey continued when I went to boarding school at Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut. I was the MVP and captain my senior year. Growing up in New England also made me a huge Boston Red Sox fan! My dad was born and raised in Maine and I was born with it in my blood.
When did you find a love for learning and teaching Spanish?
I was a history major at Yale, but I had taken Spanish in high school and college. It wasn’t until my first trip to Mexico that I really found a love for it. During my second summer at Yale I went on a work trip to Mexico where I spent the entire summer doing volunteer construction work. The program was set up through one of the chapels at Yale so it was open to anyone, not just Spanish students. Some of the other people didn’t speak Spanish at all, which required a few of us to be the translators. It was a true immersion experience for me. We had to arrange our living and eating with local families. We bought building materials on the local market and hired a “maestro” who made sure the walls and roof stayed in place. That was real immersion.
When did you decide you wanted to become a teacher?
I had a very positive experience in boarding school, so teaching was an appealing consideration. I explored law school and business school my senior year, and realized neither was a good fit, so I helped start a small boarding school in southwestern Massachusetts. I then moved on to Detroit Country Day School. I taught there for a year then was drafted into the Army in ‘68. I had eleven months of intense Vietnamese language training them spent a year in Vietnam where I developed a training program for Vietnamese civilian employees of the US military. I returned to the states and moved to Boulder, Colorado to attend the University of Colorado to get my masters, That plan changed when I was offered a job with the Colorado Migrant Council. The Council’s goal was to get Mexican farm labor families out of the migrant stream and settled in communities. I worked to connect these families with health care, education, and permanent housing. While working in the farming communities of northeastern Colorado I became interested in farming. I bought a small farm with a friend who I met in language school. I started raising beef cattle after a one year flirtation with dairying. After six years of working for the Migrant Council and farming, I decided to move to farming full time. I moved to Wisconsin and bought a 180 acre farm where I continued to raise cattle and hogs for the next five years. I finally realized as my two children, Mack and Ellarie, began to grow up that farming was not in the long term picture. At that point I was 40 and not inclined to seek a new career, so I decided to return to teaching.
How did you end up teaching in Virginia after farming in Wisconsin?
Once I decided to go back to teaching I worked with Sandoe & Associates, a teacher placement agency, and got a job teaching history and Spanish at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg. I worked there for eight years. I split my time between teaching and managing the physical plant. I also started a community service program. This led to more connections in Lynchburg so in 1990 I left VES to become the Executive Director for a network of nonprofit agencies in town. During that time I met Susan. She got a job in Roanoke in ‘97 and I just had to follow her here. We married three years later, the best thing that ever happened to me. I decided to go back to teaching. At the time Will Stacey was the Headmaster at North Cross and I knew his assistant, Gail Muscaro, whose son had been my advisee at VES. I made the connection through her and was hired in the fall of ’99. I taught both middle and upper school Spanish for the next thirteen years. In 2013 I was offered a new role as Director of Operations. Chris Proctor felt the school needed someone to be the lead person to oversee capital projects, working with contractors to oversee construction and renovation projects from start to finish.
Are you enjoying your new role as Director of Operations?
I really am. I love the people I work with, not only at North Cross, but also the contractors, architects, and donors that make these projects possible. So far I have been able to help with the middle school renovations, the CAC renovations, the creation of The Learning Center and CrossWalk space, extensive paving, and more. There is always a new exciting project on the horizon. We have several in the works currently. I also love having the grounds under my wing and hopefully Rafa and I will continue to make the campus look better and better. Rafa helps me keep my Spanish alive and growing. Also, there’s a great staff. Karen and her crew. Shawn and Buck, and Ray and his crew are very special people who i have gotten to know on a much deeper level.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I love to travel! Sus and I have traveled a lot to Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, and Guatemala. While in Viet Nam I was able to visit Thailand, Hong Kong, and Australia. At VES I took groups to Spain, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Sus and I have taken several NCS groups on cultural and language study trips. We honeymooned in Spain, and we have led adult groups there and in Mexico. Our favorite is Spain. I also greatly enjoy leading our Tuesday night Spanish club. This is a group of friends who have been meeting for over ten years. We rotate from house to house and enjoy tapas and vino. I give them writing and reading assignments and our evenings are very lively.
My other great love is flower gardening and landscaping. I can’t wait for each spring to see everything coming back up. From 180 acres to a little yard in Raleigh Court is a big change, but I still love getting my hands into the dirt.