Hometown: Lodi, California
Education: University of California, Davis—A.B., San Francisco State—M.A., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary—M.T.S., Northwestern University—M.S.Ed.
Year Appointed: 2010
Current Position: Director of International Programs, History Department Chair, Head Coach Boys Varsity Tennis
I try to be as transparent as possible, so I feel like many students know most of my story. I was raised by an amazing single mom in Lodi, CA, who worked two restaurant jobs about 80 hours a week to support me. She only had an 8th-grade formal education, but her dream was to be a teacher. She taught me a lot. Students might not know that I hope to adopt a child with my wife, Melissa.
What’s your teaching passion? What do you do to stay current in the classroom?
Education transformed my life. I needed more schooling than most, so I earned three masters degrees and started three doctoral programs. I share that with my students because I hope we can share the thrill of learning. I thrive when students get excited about new discoveries (even if the topic is ancient history). I read great journalism or history as much as I can. I read novels especially when I travel. Traveling stimulates all my senses, and I try to bring those experiences back to campus. Most of all, I learn so much from my amazing colleagues and our students.
What was your favorite book you read in school?
Luckily, I took a summer class at Davis from an extraordinary visiting professor named Tony Judt, who turned me on to Milan Kundera—“The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.” That class changed the course of my life, and I became a big fan of Kundera—and Tony Judt.
Who most influenced your decision to teach?
My “surrogate father” was a music educator, but he was also an historian. He took me camping and fishing, and told me stories about being a radioman in Italy during WWII. He took me to historic sites in California. He modeled the life I strive to live.
When you're listening to music, who's playing?
I am always listening to music. If I am sitting at my desk, I’m probably listening to John Coltrane or Glenn Gould. If I’m riding my bike, LCD Soundsystem keeps me going. Some of my favorite bands are The Kinks; Earth, Wind and Fire; The Clash; The Pixies; Radiohead; and Femi Kuti.
If you were not a teacher, what might you be doing instead?
In my dream world, I would be a writer—maybe a journalist who travels the world—by bicycle—and sometimes writes books. I worked in restaurants for 17 years, but I would not want to do that again. If I had to go into sales, I think I could sell bicycles, but I might be tempted to give them away.
What's your favorite North Cross tradition?
I love the buddy program between seniors and 4-year-olds. It might be great for the young students, but it is absolutely essential for the seniors. The program brings education full-circle for each graduate—so profound and fun simultaneously.
When your students move to the next grade, what is the most important lesson you want them to have learned?
Learning only ends when we die, so we must continue to invest in our brains. As much as I want students to feel accomplished, I hope they will learn to honor those scholars who paved the way for them. Crediting sources honorably and often may be the ultimate lesson. Students should experience the thrill of sharing education with others. Teaching may be the best way to learn.