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90 seconds w/ Dr. Baker
Grace Russell '21 Staff Writer
March 7, 2019

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

“Listen more than you talk.”

What is your most embarrassing childhood memory?

“I was in about 4th grade and I had joined a hockey team when I was living in Detroit, although I did not know how to skate. It was towards the end of the season and I was a little better on my skates but still not very good and in the championship game I was playing defense and the guy was coming with a breakaway. I wanted to stop him so I ended up sprawled face first on the ice but fortunately in front of his shot, so I saved the game. But it was pretty embarrassing to sprawl on my face in front of everybody and get up with a big bloody lip.

Did you have a high school nickname?

Credit: Natasha Leong

“Paco. I was always enamored of Pancho Villa and I always said that I wanted to have criss-cross gun belts like all those pictures of Pancho Villa and somehow that became Paco.”

What is the weirdest thing you have ever ordered on the internet?

“I once ordered this thing shaped like half of a stone egg which was supposed to be a really good humidifier if you poured water on it. It never worked.”

If you could trade lives with someone for a day who would it be?

I would trade lives with Donald Trump so that in 24 hours I could see how much of the damage he’s done, I could undo.

If you were in Harry Potter what house would you be in?

“I would want to be one of the teachers.”

What are three things you would bring to a deserted island?

“A copy of Thoreau, my wife and a very, very sturdy sea-going vessel.”

What is your go-to breakfast?

“I will usually have a cup of coffee and a bagel with melted cheese on one half and peanut butter on the other.”

Have you ever met anyone famous?

“I’ve met some professional athletes. Growing up my two boyhood heroes were Al Kalin who played for the Detroit Tigers, I grew up in Detroit and Warren Spahn who pitched for the Milwaukee Braves. I met both of them at an All Star game.”

What is the most unique place you have traveled to?

“My wife and I took 26 high school kids to the Soviet Union, when it was still the Soviet Union, in 1986 and we were there when the Chernobyl nuclear accident happened which we were unaware of because it wasn’t in the news there but it was a fascinating trip. We spent four days in Moscow and another four in Leningrad and it was a tremendous window into that time in what we refer to as, the evil empire. We visited a lot of Russian schools and one of my most poignant memories from that was an understanding of what World War II meant in the Soviet Union. We lost around 400,000 soldiers and the Soviet Union lost 20 million. So all of the schools we visited had a World War II memorial and it was an eye-opening sense of perspective.”

If you won the lottery what would you do first?

“I would set up a foundation so that I could think carefully about ways to use the majority of the money to work towards social justice goals that are important to me. 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“I would like to have the power to eradicate injustice.”

If you could invent anything, what would it be?

“I would invent a machine that would make you invisible.”

What is your spirit animal?

“A wolf.”

What is your favorite memory at Deerfield? 

“One of my favorite memories is when Mr. Henry and I had been reading Thoreau’s civil disobedience and encouraging our students to think about the kinds of things he was advocating and we had also been reading Walden and thinking about his whole vision of immersing oneself in nature and we came to class one day and there was a note on the door that said, ‘We are all out in the woods and you are welcome to come join us and find us but we are taking you at your word!’”