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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 Friday for a new episode!

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
Time 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.

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About the Contributor
Mary Wang, Senior Journalist
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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