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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Much of what I learned about teaching came from my father. In 2014, he was recognized by the Vermont Council on the Humanities as Teacher of the Year in the Humanities. More than a generation of students passed through his classroom, and many were deeply inspired and transformed by their time with him. He was one of those teachers who communicated deep caring and high standards simultaneously.

Sometimes those messages were paired with an inside joke, sometimes they were delivered at a moment in which a kind word was all that was needed to keep a student carrying on with a tough task. Among those who were fortunate enough to spend time with him were the daughters of Paul LeBlanc, who was then President of Marlboro College, and who has profoundly transformed Southern New Hampshire University over the past 15 years.

Knowing Paul’s reputation for effective change-making and visionary leadership, I visited him at his office in Manchester last week. What I saw was breathtaking: deeply purpose-designed spaces and technology that enables human interaction and speaks to young people on their own terms. The trip was transformative for me, echoing what I imagine Paul’s daughters experienced in my dad’s classroom. I walked away seeing a different landscape, a better future.

There is something to be said for paying it forward. I suppose our future depends on it. I certainly look forward to providing those opportunities for the students I work with each day, and I’m grateful for the giants who have made time for me over the years.


  1. Nancy Wolf says:

    Inspirational. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great work.

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