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The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

Series: 14 Questions

Tune in each week for a new episode!
Series: 14 Questions

Every Friday, Senior Journalist Mary Wang ’26 conducts in-depth interviews with a teacher, focusing on questions specific to their personal and professional backgrounds. Mary prepares extensively for these interviews, ensuring she asks informed questions that reveal the unique stories of the individuals who lead our classrooms. Please share your suggestions below for teachers you would like her to interview.

14 Questions With Mary Wang
David Cutler '02

Name: David Cutler '02
Classes: Journalism, American History, Government, Latin American History
Sports: Cross Country Assistant Coach
Spaces: Chase 46, Wright Conference Room, Writing Center
Time here: 11 years as a teacher (19 total)

Q1: Can you use a sentence to describe yourself?
A: I am a serious, yet fun and loving individual who likes to do lots of different things.

Q2: As many know, you were once a Brimmer student. How was that experience?
A: It was awesome. Honestly, it was the best time of my young life. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I have so many great memories of being a student here, and it's awesome to be able to be here also now as a teacher.

Q3: When did you become a teacher here?
A: I became a teacher here 11 years ago. Prior to that, I spent six years teaching at a private school in Miami, Florida.

Q4: What made you decide to return to Brimmer and teach classes like US History and journalism?
A: I was actually teaching US History and journalism at the school I was at in Miami for six years. I had never planned on staying in Miami for as long as I did, and truthfully, I was becoming a bit homesick. At the time, Mrs. Guild informed me of an opening teacher position at the school. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q5: Who was your favorite teacher when you were a student?
A: I don't mean to be wishy-washy with the response, but I loved all of my teachers. I had Ted Barker Hook for various history courses. He was an incredible teacher; Bill Jacob in drama - He was also incredible. I really learned how to communicate more effectively and enunciate, which I had some issues with growing up. Nancy Bradley in math, she's a saint. Math was never my strong suit, but she was always so patient with me. Cecilia Pan was awesome. I still remember learning about Charles Darwin in her class. I had Sharin Russell in fourth grade; that was probably my favorite year of existence where I really found myself.

Q6: You were a student journalist at Brandeis, a student newspaper, the Justice. How was that?
A: For my senior project at Brimmer, I wrote for various local newspapers at Newton that got me really interested in journalistic writing. When I went to Brandeis in the fall of 2002, I wanted to continue honing that craft. I became really involved in my spring semester of my freshman year. And then my second semester, sophomore year, um, I was elected to be a member of the editorial board as a news writer. And I would just live in the Justice office, my favorite time at Brandeis.

Q7: What is your favorite publication to read?
A: The Gator!

Q8: What makes you happy recently?
A: My wife is back to spending more time with me after being somewhat incognito with the Newton teacher strike. It's been really nice after two weeks of being passing ships in the night to be able to spend some time with her. Other than family and friends, the students make me happy.

Q9: What do you think about The Gator right now?
A: I am so impressed by what students have been able to do this year. I was not expecting after having lost eight seniors last year, that you would be able to produce so much quality content. That really speaks to the great leadership that the editors and senior journalists have shown.

Q10: What are some of your hobbies?
A: Every Wednesday I go to buy new DC comics. I would buy Marvel if have time to do it. I also like to run quite a lot and I enjoy being outside and skiing. I like to hike with him and my wife in the summer. I also write about education for various publications, such as an online education site called Edutopia.

Q11: What's something about you that would shock us?
A: I am an incredible skier. I grew up skiing as part of the race team for quite a while.

Q12: What's your favorite part about Brimmer?
A: The students. I don't think I can do what I do without the students. What remains true here is that this is a kind, caring and supportive community.

Q13: What is your favorite Brimmer lunch/snack?
A: Can I just say how amazing the food here is? I am so grateful to the Brimmer kitchen. I hope that the students know how lucky they are. I don't know if I could pick a single favorite dish, they are all restaurant-quality. I believe that you can't learn well if you're hungry.

Q14: Looking forward into the future, what is one goal you wish to accomplish within the next 10 years or so?
A: My wife and I, each summer, say we're gonna finish our basement. Uh, and each summer we don't. This summer, my goal is to finish the basement. Our son wants more play space.

Editors' note; This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.

Max Holman

Name: Max Holman
Classes: Greenline, May Chorale, Piano and Guitar, Spanish
Spaces: Almy 82, Ruth Corkin Theater
Years here: 4 years

Q1: Can you use a sentence to describe yourself?
A: I am a musician, teacher and cat-lover who enjoys traveling and trying new things - meeting new people and learning lots of things.

Q2: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A: I've decided to become a teacher because I realized that I could practice all of the musical things I wanted while working with young people and making money. For me, teaching is kind of the perfect balance of working with people and having new experiences. I can call it work, but it's often too much fun to even call it work!

Q3: What made you choose to teach at Brimmer?
A: I was very fortunate that Brimmer came into my line of sight during 2020, when I was living in Virginia, freelancing. I didn't have a full-time job, just performing a lot and teaching a little. And when COVID-19 really started that spring, all of my performance work disappeared because of the pandemic. I knew that wasn't sustainable going forward and then the job at Brimmer was available - they brought me in in the thick of the pandemic and people were still in person. The time was amazing and things have now gotten a lot better.

Q4: Can you tell us more about your choirs, Greenline and May Chorale?
A: Choral singing was a big part of Brimmer and May from its early days. As we're sitting in my room and looking at the wall of binders, all of these kids in choirs sing for our community, and it's something we could take beyond Brimmer. It is my goal to give anyone that wants to learn how to sing the tools to take singing anywhere in life. When you sing, you don't even realize the tension people can carry nowadays. One of my favorite parts about Greenline is that it's not academic. We just get to sing and reset our day.

Q5: What are your favorite parts about all the classes you teach?
A: I like that I can teach both middle and high school because they're very different. I have the general music classes in middle school to teach some more foundational things like keyboard and sight reading. I also teach Spanish as of this year, which is a personal passion of mine. It's thrilling to be able to share all of the work I've done on my own with other people who are also learning to speak a language fluently. That variety for me is really luxurious because every moment feels different. I use all of my skills, which is pretty much all I could ask for!

Q6: What was your most enjoyable musical experience?
A: I conducted this opera a few years ago about climate change. It was super modern and very challenging. It was really out there and the piece came together nicely. The piece was presented in rural Kansas where some folks might not be as in tune politically or socially with climate change. I really felt one of the highlights from this year was our winter concert and having some middle school instrumentalists performing again, like our harpist, Ziqi Qin ‘29 and violinist Fischer Biederman ‘28. When I was in college I had the opportunity to sing in an opera in Muscat, Oman. That was an incredible chance to be a part of an American troupe who were performing an opera in another country - bringing western opera into the Middle East. It was a really fascinating lifetime opportunity.

Q7: What is your favorite song?
A: I'm a weird mix of someone who's equally obsessed with Baroque and Renaissance music as I am with 90s and 2000s music that I grew up with; I also enjoy punk and some of that heavier rock too. I like to find the intersection between sounds - ridiculous, but true!

Q8: Recently, what makes you happy?
A: Balance, productivity and well-rest makes me happy. Seeing moments of realization in my students makes me really happy! Performing, eating good food and enjoying life in general also makes me happy. Something I've really embraced lately is the support from my colleagues here at Brimmer.

Q9: Would you like to talk a little bit more about your cat?
A: Yes! Her name is Estrella, which means “star” in Spanish. She's a tabby and I adopted her five years ago. She’s very sweet, mellow and playful and she even plays fetch! I had cats growing up, but she's really something special.

Q10: What's a hobby that you have outside of school?
A: I love to travel. Something I've done is taking advantage of breaks from school to travel and try new things. As a Spanish speaker, it's convenient to go to a Spanish-speaking country and learn new dialects and absorb new accents and improve my vocabulary and comprehension.

Q11: What is something about you that might shock your students?
A: I grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania which is kind of a fun fact because of the chocolate bar and it's just been a fun place. I was a football player back in high school, but during my sophomore year, I was really sick and I couldn't play anymore like football that year. Then, I started singing and that's how I got into singing and discovered that it’s what I want to study in college. Who knows what my life would have been had I not gotten sick? You and I might not even be having this conversation.

Q12: What is your favorite School lunch/snack?
A: I am a sucker for cheez-its! I have had a hard time trying to not snack too much here. Shout out to our amazing kitchen staff! I love our chef Craig and every single member. I love anything with chicken, like the chicken thigh with veggies on the side.

Q13: Looking into the future, what is one goal you wish to accomplish?
A: I want to continue connecting with high school students who I don't have in my classes. I think teaching Spanish has been a step in that direction: students can get a sense of who I am, and that music is what I do but I have other interests. My room is far from the front of the building, so that can be a little hard.

Q14: Is there a personal favorite quote or motto of yours you would like to share?
A: “Donde hay música no puede haber cosa mala,” or Where there is music there can be no evil, by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra. You can see a picture of this quote everywhere in this room, and I think it fits what I believe in and teach here very well. I am looking to put this quote in a bigger frame to hang in the room, hopefully, and I’d like to share this with everyone.

Editors' note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.

Kenley Smith

Name: Kenley Smith
Classes: English, AP English Literature and English Electives
Spaces: Chase 45
Years here: 9 years

Q1: You have taught at many schools before, how was that experience?
A: The first school I taught at was a small school in Husack, New York. I was the head of the drama department, taught ESL, biology, and all kinds of things. Later I moved to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, teaching Middle School English. Then I went to Miami and taught high school English at an episcopalian independent school. I also moved to London to teach English at the American school in London. Finally, I returned to Boston to teach at the School.

Q2: Why did you choose to settle down at Brimmer?
A: I'm from New England in the Boston area. I grew up in Beverly on the North Shore. I went away to boarding school at 14 and had never really lived back in the New England area in a long time. After leaving London, I knew I wanted to be closer to family and return to this area - that was the appeal.

Q3: Can you tell us more about why you chose to use Harkness as a key model for the class and the training you received at Phillips Exeter?
A: For high school, I actually went to Phillips Andover - the sister school of Philips Exeter, and they both used a similar model of Harkness, a discussion-based classroom. As a teenager, that's how I understood humanities classes to work. I got the formal training at Exeter, and really liked the rationale behind it. I like that I need to hear students’ voices more than my voice in the classroom. It also opens up the door for a lot of kids who struggle with articulating their own ideas in the classroom.

Q4: You are a big traveler. What was your favorite travel experience?
A: In college I spent a year abroad in Zimbabwe. That was my first big away from home trip and I just loved it. My brother was doing a year abroad in Spain and my family went to visit him. Around that year I got a lot of travel experience and really liked it. At the School, through winterim, I went on the India winterim trip. We learned so much and it was such a wonderful experience. I've also done an England and Iceland winterim trip through the School.

Travel is kind of its own form of education and it fits nicely with the theme of what we do. One of the best ways you can become a more compassionate human being is to see the world.

Q5: Do you have a favorite author, and a book from them?
A: I will quote Danielle from the movie Ever After, a Cinderella-inspired film. “I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens.” It's very difficult to choose one. Dr. Reese and I both agree that a book that we hope everyone will read before they leave high school is Toni Morrison's Beloved, because I don't think you can understand American history and culture unless you read that book. It is deeply beautiful, heartbreaking, and fascinating. I also love David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which has five books in one book, a non-traditional format. I like when people  push the boundaries of what a book can actually be. Margaret Atwood wrote a book that was all in tweets. These really intrigue me because I like the idea of how literature evolves.

Q6: What is your favorite play/musical?
A: Angels in America. It’s about the AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s, with fantastical elements like ghosts and angels. It’s a beautiful look at the struggle we have with wanting comfort, and the need for progress and change.

Q7: What's the best part of teaching English?
A: Everything. I have the best job in the world and I mean it. The best part is interacting with students on every level. I learn so much from my students. I'm sort of an introvert by nature, and teaching helps me with that. There is something profoundly beautiful about the learning process, about people becoming vulnerable enough to admit that they can be wrong, about learning from each other and listening to another person, and about taking what they've told you and applying it to yourself.

Q8: What is something about you that would shock your students?
A: I was often not a good student. I love learning, but it’s just that I never cared about grades that much. A lot of my homework was completed last-minute. I'm a bit of a procrastinator by nature. As a student, I was a little uneven.

Q9: What is your favorite hobby?
A: I love hiking. In 2001 I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine and that's something that I like to do on the weekends. I love arts and crafting, such as cross stitch, needlework, decoupage, mixed media, etc,. I also love going to physical libraries and bookstores to see the architecture, like the Boston Public Library.  When I lived in England, there was always something new to see. It's almost like a sacred space to me in bookstores where the people are there for the same reason and all appreciate the same things.

Q19: Recently, what makes you happy?
A: My family spent the New Year in New York City and we just walked over the city. We saw many things that I'd never seen before despite having been to NYC. I went to some museums and stores and did the High Line Walk. Having the time to explore a new place with no set agenda, just walking around and looking made me really happy.

Q11: What's your favorite School lunch/snack?
A; We had Brisket Burnt ends one day last year. They were so wonderful. If there's a topping bar, I think it's gonna be extra good.

Q12: What's your favorite part about the community?
A: I've never been a part of a community where kindness and empathy was so inherent to the student body. Many times when something happens, I won’t need to intervene because students are on it. There's always patience with each other, willingness to accept differences and embracing them. Kindness means a lot to me as a teacher.

Q13: Looking into the near future, what is one goal you wish to accomplish?
A: I have a collector mentality and I tend to do something with this. If I find an artificial flower in the middle of nowhere, I'll keep it. Minimizing  my stuff is a personal goal. In terms of school goals, I am excited for planning electives. I think that it's one of the best parts of our program. I want to keep trying to create classes and contents that students are excited about.

Q14: What is your favorite quote/artifact hanging around your room?
A: Probably the chickens and light bulb painting up there, right below the clock. I got that when I was in China from a street artist and it made me think about a classroom. The lightbulbs are like ideas and all the chickens are meandering. To me, that's probably the most symbolic of the kind of education that I think is important.

Editors' note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.

Joe Iuliano

Name: Joe Iuliano
Classes and Position: International Relations, AP Human Geography (Soon!), Assistant Head of Academic Affairs
Spaces: Office in the College Counseling Rooms
Time here: 16 years

Q1: In one sentence, how would you describe yourself?
A: I think I'm a mix of conservative and socially liberal, which might sound like a contradiction, but it fits well within the Massachusetts mold. I'm very traditional in some ways but very open and accepting in others. I still got a little bit of my youthfulness in me, where I'm not really entirely controlled with everything.

Q2: Can you talk more about your high school experience?
A: In high school, I was a really good student until my senior year when I got senioritis. I was a three-season athlete throughout most of my high school career. I went to school so I can play sports. I started some things, but not as much as I should have. So, I wasn't as good a student, which was not the best thing to do because I wasn't really ready to take on college.

I loved French class in particular: my teacher was awesome, but it was also worth going to class just to be around. She’s a cutie. I was also the president of the student council as a senior although I shouldn't have been - I felt like my friend deserved it more than I did.

Q3: You were the Prom King in high school! How was that experience?
A: I was the prom king my junior year - I don't know how that happened. The girl who was the prom queen definitely deserved it, she was wonderful. I was just a guy.

Q4: Did your initial career aspirations align with where you are now?
A: Not at all. When I first got into college, I majored in astrophysics or something similar, but soon I realized that it wasn’t the path for me. I became an English major instead, but it wasn’t necessarily to become a teacher. I did it because I kind of loved it, and ended up here.

Q5: What other jobs have you taken?
A: I actually did an internship in college at a TV station - I thought that I could write some newsy stuff. In college, I also worked on the literary magazine and other writing-related jobs. I even interviewed for a newspaper job when I got out o college, but I was clueless. I could have been working for Mr. Cutler.

Q6: What drew you to the School initially?
A: I was at three other schools before I came to the School, for the first 16 years of my career. I was a department chair at another school. I wanted to work my way into administration. I had a family, and administrators get paid more. This was one of the places that interviewed me. At that point, Mrs. Reenstierna was the head of the school, and I knew about the school a little bit because I was around the area, and I thought that the School would be a good place to work.

Q7: What is your favorite part of the School?
A: I love my colleagues. More importantly, the students keep me young, and I come to school every day because they are like free entertainment to me (in a good way) They keep me on my toes and say things that are really thought provoking.

Q8: What's your favorite school lunch?
A: I've got a soft spot for breakfast for lunch. There's just something about them, like French toast and waffles, that gets me every time.

Q9: Can you share a favorite book or movie that has impacted you?
A: “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr is a book that's stayed with me. For those interested in the complexities of human nature and history, it's a must-read. For my students in International Relations, I recommend “Man, the State, and War” by Kenneth Waltz to get them thinking about international relations in a nuanced way. These are the two of my favorites as of now.

Q10: What inspired you to teach International Relations?
A: Back in the late 80s and 90s, I took a bunch of courses at the Harvard Extension Schools - graduate courses in government. I had the international relations course, and a whole bunch of other courses. Afterwards, I got a degree at BC in administration. By the time around 2009 and 2010, I was the head of the upper school and we started the global studies program. I started teaching international relations as part of the global studies program and I love it! It's the best part of my day.

Q11: Recently, what makes you happy?
A: good pizza can make my day, and there's nothing quite like the feeling of a well-rested night to set everything right, although the two don't necessarily go together. If I have my pizza first, I may not sleep that well, but those are good things. Comfort food is nice.

Q12: Looking ahead, what are you eager to accomplish professionally?
A: I'm really looking forward to successfully teaching the AP Human Geography course, which is soon to be offered in the 2024-2025 school year. It's a challenge I'm excited to tackle.

Q13: Do you have a guiding principle or quote that resonates with you?
A: “That one win in World War II was worth more than the hundred I missed in baseball.”It is a page from a calendar in 1998 that my wife gave to me. The quote is from a pitcher for the Cleveland Guardians who's in the Hall of Fame. Not only was he a pitcher, but he also was a pilot during World War II. He didn’t pitch for three years, so he would have won like a hundred games. He says that one win in World War II was worth more to him than anything that he could have done in baseball, which I just loved. That's a selfless man trying to do something good in the world, and you’ve got to love that.

Q14: BONUS! Talk more about your costume at your prom!
A: At the prom, I was in a brown tuxedo with a little extension on the sides. Back then, he also had long hair. My prom date at the time wore a pink and white, floral dress. Imagine the scene!

Editors' note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.

Chris Hardman

Classes: Physics, AP Physics

Spaces: STEAM classroom, Maker Space

Sports: Varsity Boys Soccer

Years here: 21

Q1: Why did you decide to move to the US?
A1: I lived in London, but I'm not from there. I moved down to London after I finished my master's. I was in education and I was going to move down to London and purposefully go to one of these tough schools because they've never had somebody who's cared about them and tried. It was great, but you burn it up pretty quickly. So, I decided I was going to get out. It just so happened that the girl I was dating at the time got a job at Wellesley College. I said, you know what, I'll give this a shot. I got an interview at Brimmer and they offered me the job. Brimmer sponsored my H1B visa, which is the thing that I needed to come and work here. I wasn't necessarily expecting to be here this long at first.

Q2: Can you tell us more about your experiences growing up in the UK?
A2: I grew up in the northwest of England, in a town called Preston. For the first 12 years of my life, I lived in government housing.  My parents were very young when they had me. We moved to a more rural area, where I went to school with many friends, who, many of them were farmers and still are farmers today. It was a pretty relaxed upbringing. I have two sisters. One is quite a bit younger, and one’s much younger than me.

Q3: Why did you decide to teach the sciences?
A3: My mother was working at one of the colleges in England - for 11th and twelfth graders - as a lab technician. She’d set up all the experiments for all of the classes. Whenever I had school breaks, I would go and help her set up these experiments. I got to play with AP level experiments as a 9-year-old, and I thought it was super awesome. I really got into science at that point and was planning on actually being a real scientist. I did spend a year working at a chemical factory in Bradford, but it was tedious.

I spent a summer coaching and teaching sailing, kayaking, and canoeing in the English Lake District, and decided that I liked working with teenagers, and I would go and teach science instead of trying to be a scientist.

Q4: Tell us more about your experience coaching soccer at the School.
A4: I played soccer from the age of four through college, and I coached at the school I taught in London. Coaching at Brimmer was a significant adjustment because the team that I coached in England made the national finals. I had multiple kids who had signed professional contracts on my team, but when I came to Brimmer, they were certainly not at the skill level that I was used to working with. It was quite an adjustment, figuring out the drills that I could run with these kids and the level of competition we were going to be facing.

Now, we've got a pretty robust program. Our athletes keep moving through. We have some really committed soccer players, and good athletes who enjoy being a part of the team.

Q5: What is your favorite phrase?
A5: “Stop faffing about”. In soccer practice, after a drill has been going for a while, people lose focus in the drill, so this basically means “stop doing the pointless get back on track”. It also applies to classrooms. Sometimes people get a little off-task during some of our activities, and being off-task is faffing.

Q6: What is an interesting story that you could tell us?
A6: I went to University of Bradford, which is in Yorkshire. It has a large Indian and Pakistani community, and I lived above a curry house. It was a wonderful place, and they had the best food. I decided that I would add my meals to my rent. My parents would pay rent on this apartment, but then the rent would include dinner at the curry house, which my parents hadn't agreed to, but I added anyway. After about three months, my dad questioned me why my rent keeps changing and going up. After learning about the dinners I added, my dad was not super happy about that. Regardless, I ate some incredibly hot curries, and what is hot when you eat, it is also hot when it comes back out again. My friends and I actually kept a roll of toilet paper in the freezer for the mornings after we'd eaten particularly hot and spicy curries. There were mild, medium, hot, very hot, and extreme heat levels. We would constantly be having extreme level curries.

Q7: Who is your favorite scientist?
A7: Isaac Newton, and the fact that he wasn't just a scientist. He was a scientist, but he was also an architect, a member of parliament, and a politician. He was the master of The Mint in London, so he did so many things above and beyond just being a scientist. He is an incredible genius.

Q8: What’s your favorite thing about the School?
A8: As I mentioned in a question previously, I really only expected to be here for a three-year adventure. When I first got here, all the lunch ladies made things at home that they brought in for me because they were like, “The poor young man's away from me.” They made things in their own homes that brought them in for me to take home and eat. It was just so welcoming, and it continues to be that way. This is my family away from my family.

Q9: Which project in the maker space are you the most proud of?
A9: I've had many great students that have done some awesome work there. The idea that we could make all of our own shirts and make things for the teams, the play, and the musical that was all student driven was really great. For example, Michael Finn Henry built a drone from scratch there. Avery Alpren made her walknet. She initially came up with a concept in problem solving through design, but then she took it to fruition in the STEAM lab. It was a pretty incredible piece of engineering and design work.

Q10: What is your favorite hobby?
A10: In the winter, I really enjoy snowboarding. I have a season pass to a mountain in New Hampshire called Ragged Mountain and I try to go there as often as I can. A colleague of mine ran a snowboarding program and he taught me how to snowboard. At the end of the period, Mr. Cutler actually took me on my first real black diamond at Loon Mountain, an outdoor-ed trip. Now, both my kids can ski pretty well. Fox is learning to snowboard now and has been accompanying me to The Nashoba Valley to learn how to snowboard. My wife, on the other hand, hates the cold. She stays in the lodge if we go anywhere and sits with a stack of magazines and a glass of wine.

Q11: Can you share something about yourself that would shock your students?
A11: When I was in university, a friend of mine, Dan, had taken a leave of absence from his studies and was working for an animal husbandry company. He literally went around the country, collecting bull semen and inseminating cows. I joined him for one day of work and I went and collected bull semen and I inseminated a cow. I literally stuck my hand up the cows to feel for where the uterus was and I inserted a syringe of bull semen and inseminated the cow. Dan was able to confirm that the cow had become pregnant and did indeed calf a few months later. I never met the calves, but that was a weird and wonderful experience.

Q12: Recently, what makes you happy?
A12: Spending time with my kids. I know that time continues to move on and my kids keep growing—my daughter is about to go to high school next year. Being able to spend time with my kids before they're like, “Ugh, get out of my way, dad”, “Oh, I hate you” These are moments that happen in every family. I'm just enjoying the time while I still can.

Q13: Share with us your favorite quote/motto/equation.
A13: This was originally my mother's quote. There are three rules. Rule number one, Mr. Hardman is always right. Rule number two, if you think Mr. Hardman is wrong, refer to rule number one - “Mr. Hardman is always right.” And rule number three, don't touch Mr. Hardman's stuff.

Q14: Looking into the future, what is one thing you wish to accomplish?
A14: I'm pretty happy with where I am right now. All my goals now are starting to revolve around my family. I'm hoping to successfully transition both my kids into high school and hopefully spend some more time this summer riding my bike. I would like to get back to riding 60 miles in a day and not be in pain the next day. During COVID, I became a little bit slovenly and maybe gained about 15 pounds, which is not ideal. Last May, I made the decision to get back into shape. I've probably lost about eight of those 15 pounds. So I've still got a few to lose.

Editors' note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.

Pete Slaski

Name: Pete Slaski
Clases: Algebra II, Algebra II Foundations, AP Statistics
Spaces: Chase 144
Time here: 14 years

Q1. In one sentence, how would you describe yourself?

A1: I am a friendly and fun-loving teacher, parent, husband, brother, and son.

Q2. Why did you start teaching math?

A2: My dad is the oldest of seven and almost all of his brothers are engineers. My father is an engineer and my brother is an accountant. We are a family that likes math, and as you know, I'm just someone who likes to talk a lot.

Teaching seemed like a really good fit to me. I think I chose to teach math also because it was something that when I was a student, I was good at.

Q3. What is your favorite field of math?

A3: Definitely statistics. I teach AP statistics, and I think it's really very applicable to everyday life. It's something that a lot of students would use across different fields, even in psychology or higher education where you are doing surveys. In Algebra II, students often have the question of “When am I going to use this?”  In reality, they probably won't because there aren't a ton of calculus-based fields out there. I never get that question for Stats because I think students see the everyday uses of statistics.

Q4. Talk to us a little bit about the New York Jets team (and the color green)

A4: I grew up in New York and I am a big New York sports fan. Jets and then Matt's baseball are the two teams that I follow most closely. The color green is also my high school color - our colors were also green and white where I went to college. At Brimmer, our colors are green and white as well. Green has been my favorite color since I was in first grade when I watched Gumbia's - an old claymation cartoon from the sixties and seventies. I haven't watched one in like 40 years, but I always liked Gumbia. My teacher from first grade asked us for our favorite color. I was writing sentences, and I said green is my favorite color because I love Gumbia. The color green just happened to work and became a part of many things I love.

Q5. Talk a little bit about your experience growing up.

A5: I grew up having older brothers two years older than me. We were pretty competitive and spent a lot of our free time playing wiffle ball or basketball. I played youth league baseball and basketball, and my father was the coach of some of those teams. When I got to high school, I played soccer and lacrosse and I continued to play lacrosse in college. I always loved team sports and I find them to be great. It's just not classroom learning, but learning how to deal with people and how to coexist in a space with them.

A lot of my memories growing up are playing sports and even in college, all of my friends that I stay in touch with are all guys I was teammates with in sports. My parents were very supportive as well. They would always come to all my high school games. My brother and I are going to the Boston Garden tonight (March 29th) to watch a game, and he flew into town from Virginia just today. We're still very much big fans.

Q6. What is one thing about you that will surprise your students/colleagues?

A6: I had a cardiac arrest last year and I was in the hospital in intensive care for 10 days. I have a pacemaker which helps my heart go now. I'm living a normal life, and everything seems fine. That's something that most people probably don't know. I am glad to have such excellent doctors so I'm back to living my normal life.

Q7. What is a hobby of yours you really enjoy?

A7: My number one hobby is running. It’s great not only for physical fitness, but also for mental health. Sometimes you don't want to do it, but I force myself. Mr. Curtis and I go out a few days a week - we're both parents, and it's good therapy for the soul and the body. I try to run three or four times a week anywhere from three to five miles. It's nice to have a conversation or if I'm running myself. I usually just listen to a podcast, something really low key and just to kind of tune out.


Q8. What’s your favorite mathematical equation?

A8: The Quadratic equation. Students often ask, “why do I need to know this, and it does have obvious applications?” It is a silly equation and I think it's one thing that when students come back and visit they would ask, “are you still teaching the quadratic equation?” It's just something that everyone remembers. 

Q9. What’s your favorite thing about Brimmer?

A9: How we get to know the students, since we're such a small school. I've worked at a boarding school before, and you do get to know the students incredibly well because you're  working with them on campus and during evenings and weekends. However, Brimmer gives the students an opportunity to do lots of things and I really like that. I normally teach students a few times and through things like cross-country and chess club so we know everyone in the school pretty well.

Q10. What is your favorite Brimmer lunch?

A10: Historically, my favorite lunch was the corn and cheese empanadas, but I don't think they've made those recently. I will say it is either fried rice or lo mein with steamed broccoli and the edamame dumplings. They also have barbecue pulled pork with cornbread. There's lots of good lunches here and every day I'm usually excited when I walk down there.

Q11. Can you tell us more about your experiences coaching Softball this year?

A11: I think I have a passion for team sports for the interpersonal skills and teamwork skills that people can gain. From the coaching side of things, I think it's a lot of fun to be able to work with students you know: not everyone loves math class, so sometimes I get to know them through cross-country or through another sport, and they're completely different. It’s nice because they don't have the stress of being in class, so you get to know them more personally and joke around with them. I just started softball this week with Mr. Barker-Hook, and it's been a lot of fun so far.

Q12. Recently, what makes you happy?

A12: My son is dyslexic and he had a really tough time reading in first grade. Lately he was kind of losing his confidence and not really liking school, but he's had some really great teachers in tutoring. He’s on track and he's reading and I was reading to himself before bed. Just seeing my son learning to battle his dyslexia, the fact that he's doing really well and that he's reading for fun is amazing and something which I wouldn't imagine would have happened last year.

Q13. What is one goal you wish to accomplish in the near future?

A13: Going back to my hobby, I'm really training to run a half marathon over Memorial Day weekend in May. That's less than two months away, so I'm hoping to get myself into really good shape to do that. I've been trying to improve my mileage and amount of times I go running. I’d say that would be a goal of mine - to not only run the half marathon, but also feel good.

Q14. Around this room, we see many old things like butterfingers. Which artifact in your room would you like to talk more about today?

A14: It’s always fun. Marlie’s suggestion box originated from when she was in my class in seventh grade: she went to turn-in a paper homework, and I said we'll put it in the suggestion box and as a joke, I just covered it up and threw it in the trash can. When she was older and in the steam lab, she made a vinyl sticker that said suggestion box and she just had put it on there. I thought that was really cute and she is such a sweet kid, but now unfortunately, when I see the trash I also think of Marlie.

The butter finger was from one of my advisees six years ago, Paxton, who I had a bet with because I don't think he was preparing enough for his pre calc exam. He said he would get an A- and I bet him a butter finger. I think he got a B+ and gave me the butterfinger, but I didn't feel like eating it that day so I just put it up there and it stayed. I always like goofy little things like that and I have a hard time throwing stuff like that away because I always think it makes me happy and I think of my students.

Editors' note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.


Janeata Robinson

Name: Janeata Robinson
Position: Registrar
Spaces: Hastings
Time here: 24 years

Q1: How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

A1: I am a grandmother who loves being in school with students and learning with them.

Q2: What is your favorite thing about education for young children?

A2: I love seeing how young children grasp things and learn. I especially love working with the lower school, because by the time they get to the middle and upper school, they've gone through a lot of education, and I love seeing that growth.

Q3: Can you tell us a little more about your experience growing up in England?

A3: It was very different. The weather is different, the people you’re surrounded by are different…There were a lot of Irish and Indian people in the area where I grew up. I also remember having a lot of independence in England, going outside to play with my friends.

Q4: Why did you come to the United States?

A4: My parents were leaving England to come here to the United States. Therefore, I journeyed with them to the U.S.

Q5: Why did you decide to choose Brimmer in Newton, Massachusetts?

A5:  I have worked in the Boston Public Schools for a very long time. I came here because I moved and it was more convenient for me. I had two young children that I wanted to be in an independent school where they are welcomed. I am very happy I made that choice to come here.

Q6: What is your favorite thing about the School? 

A6: I like how we are a Pre-K to 12 school. I love getting to work with the Lower School children: they’re so flexible, natural and free in their behaviors. You can see how learning affects them as they grow in Lower School, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with them as I came from teaching Lower School myself.

Q7: Can you talk more about your interest in music?

A7: Music comes in many forms, not just the instruments and the words, but sounds as well. I just cannot imagine the world without music and all kinds of music, instruments, and voices. It's absolutely beautiful to me.

Q8: Do you have a favorite artist or genre of music?

A8: It’s hard because I love so much music. I love the blues. I love some jazz as well. I love operatic music. Anything we do carefully and with instruments, I really love, even if they are in languages that I don't know. I love listening to the words and the way we play the instruments differently, especially instruments I'm not familiar with myself.

Q9: Is there something about you that would shock your students?
A9: I share how I am with the children. They know I'm very grandmotherly. Maybe that I have a certain energy so that when I look at them, sometimes  they just know “I should conduct myself a little bit differently.” I feel that we as humans feel each other's energy, and the children see that especially.

Q10: What is one thing you wish to accomplish in the near future?

To continue to grow and to help. And if I can, I want to help children grow in their confidence. There's a lot of things that are happening that aren't so much in our control, but we need confidence to know that those things will stabilize. The world is very fast-paced, and we need to keep recognition of the human side. No matter our race, no matter our language, no matter where we live, we are sharing this earth.

Q11: Recently, what is one thing that makes you feel really happy?

A11: I just spoke with the children about indoor voices and picking up after themselves. I'm happy because they listened. They had a very good talk with me and they really listened to everything that I had to say. They were very respectful, and that made me happy.

Q12: Is there a hobby of yours that you would like to share with us?

A12: I don't really have a hobby that I can give time to right now. But if I could, I would go back to knitting. I also like bike riding, which I can't do right now. I would love to do more things for myself if I have the opportunity to.

Q13: Do you have a favorite quote?

A13: There is one quote that I grew up with: “Good manners and respect will carry you all over the world.” My grandparents taught me this, and I truly believe in what it says.

Q14: What is your favorite artifact?

A14: I love this artwork in my office by a Lower School art teacher. It has “Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Kindness, and Empathy,” and I feel like it really aligns with the values of me, the School and my hope for the world around us.

Editors' note: This is a partial transcript of the podcast, edited for concision.

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About the Contributor
Mary Wang
Mary Wang, Co-Managing Editor
Mary is a sophomore at the School. Her interests range from creative arts to politics. She especially loves all theater-related things, debating, and sustainability. Being from China, she hopes to write about her country’s culture and current events. She is excited to continue writing about these interests in The Gator.

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