"A deeper engagement"
Until recently, my teaching goals have focused at the college level. I came to High Mowing with my wife Bev, thinking that I might work with students in a more personal and collaborative way—something that is often not possible in college. We have found the students’ level of commitment here to be a joy and have gotten to know many of them quite well over the years.
I had a great time at my small public high school in Upstate New York; it was the place where I could see my friends, where things were happening, and I loved "book learning." I felt sad when it was over. High Mowing is the same kind of place in that respect. When you see tears on graduation day, it's because it's the end of an important era for the graduates—this is like their home, they put down roots here, and when their time is over, it's bittersweet.
I suspect the emotional attachment students feel is in part due to the deep engagement they experience. For the last nine years I've directed a big play in the spring involving a large portion of the student body. Every year we work incredibly hard to get the show up and running—at a time of year when students are finishing up a lot of their schoolwork and are stretched a little thin. And yet, every year on opening night, and every night thereafter, there's an incredible rush as the cast and audience meet and the sheer joy of performing sweeps over the stage. They are so in love with life, and the life of the arts, that when the play is over it takes a lot to wind down. That kind of ‘spirit of the group’ is something everyone should have a chance to experience in high school.
It is significant to me that High Mowing embraces the conciliation of different realms: science, art and technology. My own academic background is quite diverse—an undergraduate degree in history, graduate studies in dialectology and linguistics, theatre and education; I wrote my PhD dissertation on accents for the stage—and yet each of these areas has been important in my work with the students here.
St. Lawrence University, B.A. in History. Princeton university, PhD Dialectology and Linguistics