My favorite part of the school day is greeting our students as they arrive in the morning. It is a simple, yet impactful action that grounds me in what is most important in helping our students thrive at Penn Charter: relationships. Though a handful of students may enter our building each day with low stress and high motivation, most carry with them worries, pressures, and other strains that can inhibit their learning. Relationships within the community — with trusted adults and with peers — help to provide safety, and safety precedes all learning. Most students come to school each day in hopes of connecting with others, finding meaning in their lives, and learning how they fit in the matrix of our school society, and in the larger society of our city, country, and world. Being seen each morning, greeted by name, and with some personal detail like, “How was your game last night?”, “You were amazing in the concert!”, or “How is your mom?” has the impact of giving me information and also helping students know that they are visible, they matter, and we care about them.
While it’s hard to believe that I am entering my 24th year in education, and 5th as the Middle School Director at Penn Charter, the importance of relationships has not changed since I began teaching at Capitol Hill Day School, in Washington DC, in August of 1994. Since then, I have worked in four schools including three Quaker schools: Sandy Spring in Olney MD, Greene Street in Philadelphia PA, and now Penn Charter. A driving force in my professional life is to bring Quaker education to as many young people as possible because I believe the world needs what our graduates can do. Most importantly, our students enter the world with a foundational understanding the every person carries with them an Inner Light, or that which is good or divine in all of us. This is one reason why I volunteer my time as a Board Member on the Friends Council on Education and teach a Quakerism course to our seventh graders at Penn Charter.
When I am not working, I love spending time with our children (Josh 16, Darcy 14, and Casey 11) and my wife of 18 years, Jeanne. Whether camping, skiing, playing sports, or just hanging out playing cards, I cherish time with family. As our teenagers become less inclined to choose to hang out with us, Jeanne and I are finding more time to ourselves and have grand plans for more date nights.
While I am years away from my playing days at University of North Carolina (played lacrosse from ‘90-’94), I still love to compete in basketball, golf, squash, and just about anything with a team and a ball. After coaching lacrosse, basketball, and soccer for many of my teaching years, I still love coaching and working with athletes of all ages. Helping lead the Sandy Spring Varsity Lacrosse team to two championships in six years remains a highlight of my career in education because of the relationships I developed with the student-athletes there.
I am grateful to Penn Charter for enabling me to combine three lifelong passions: Quaker education, athletics, and family, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this incredible learning community.