Every year faculty members leave to further their academic studies, pursue other interests, or retire. This year Deerfield bids farewell to some great teachers and staff, among them science teachers Mark Acton and Steve Anderson, Associate Director of Admissions Benjamin Hamilton, math teacher Joel Jacob, fine arts teacher and theater director John Reese, and science teacher Lauren Veit.
Deerfield marks not only some of the greatest years in a student’s life, but it also has a profound impact on the adults who live and work here. Mr. Reese, who came here when Deerfield was still an all-boys’ school, was inspired by the number of boys who opened up to theater. He reflected, “I had the expectation that boys would be reserved, but it was just the opposite. I learned that your expectation could be completely misguided. I was taken back by the willingness of students to take risks in their work.”
Mr. Jacob came here to teach and, along the way, became ensconced in the community. He commented, “The friendships I developed make me a better teacher. I’ll miss hanging out in the math department, whether it’s doing a crossword puzzle with Mr. Keller and Mr. Dancer or discussing my classes with Mrs. Latham and Mr. Barnes.”
Deerfield has also helped some teachers find their direction in life. Mr. Hamilton explained he “gained a little humility living here amongst so many talented people. Deerfield helped me find my professional path. I started off on Wall Street, but once I landed here I realized my professional calling was the school world.” Other than his admissions expertise, Mr. Hamilton admitted that “Deerfield has taught me how to bake a mean cookie. My first batch was like eating salt cakes. Now the boys rave about them.”
Students say that there is more to Deerfield than what happens in the classroom. Mr. Anderson, or Steve, as he is affectionately known, agreed: “Deerfield has taught me the importance of every aspect of the community. It’s not just the teachers and the students, but a really happy and vibrant place like Deerfield has so many staff and townspeople. There’s just connectivity here.”
Ms. Veit lived in the Pocumtuck Valley for only a year, but said that “this place has taught me a lot about what a genuine community really is. In all the communities I’ve ever been a part of, this has been the best in terms of people helping each other and people watching out for each other.”
Looking ahead, everyone hopes to bring some part of Deerfield with him or her in the future. Head of School Margarita Curtis remarked, “What I hope they take away from Deerfield are the relationships they have developed here with fellow faculty members and students whose lives they have affected in a pretty special way. I thank them for what they have done here.”
Reflecting on his past few years, Dr. Acton commented, “I’ve really enjoyed getting to see all sides of my students, whether it’s in the dorm, out in the athletic fields or during sit down meal. I’ve seen the hidden parts of students that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I’ll miss the easy and close relationships with students because we spend so much time together.”