by Sydney Cerveny and Isabella Collins

This year, Austin Prep welcomed a number of new faculty and staff members into its community. In an effort to get to know these new additions to our school, we sent them each a questionnaire, and compiled some of our favorite answers into an article so that you can get to know them, too.

When asked what made him want to start teaching, Mr. Brennan, Austin’s new Assistant to the Headmaster and Head of Upper School, answered, “My mother was a teacher and my father was a coach. I started out teaching English and coaching football. Once I started working with students, I was hooked.” We also asked Ms. Rupley, the new Director of Health and Wellness, why she chose to pursue a career in a school environment, she told us, “Before I got involved in schools I was a tennis professional on the Cape and in Los Angeles teaching both kids and adults how to play the game. I realized after five years of teaching tennis that what I loved most about my work was the relationships I built with my students, especially the kids. It was this realization that inspired me to pursue my graduate degree and to get a job working in schools. And I’ve never looked back, it was the best decision I could have ever made.”

In addition to learning why some of our new faculty and staff members developed a passion for teaching in the first place, we wanted to know what some of their favorite memories from their previous teaching jobs were. When we spoke with Ms. Vij, Austin’s new Language and Culture teacher, she gave us some insight into a performance put on by some of her international students last year, saying, “They didn’t think they could do it, but it was very good and the audience loved it.” We asked our new faculty members what they did before coming to Austin as well, to which Mr. O’Brien, the Admissions Director, responded, “ I worked at two private independent schools prior to Austin with the bulk of my experience being in admissions, college counseling and international programs.”

A big component of teaching is the ability to inspire your students and give them the life lessons they need in order to be successful later in life. For this reason, we asked our new teachers what piece of advice they would give their students. In response to this, Ms. Donnelly, one of Austin’s newest members of the history department, said, “Don’t be afraid to take risks and go outside your comfort zone. You never know what you are capable of unless you try!” after telling us about how, even though she was shy in high school, she still took a risk and joined the drama club.

As high schoolers ourselves, it is always interesting to know what our teachers were like when they were our age. We asked Mr. Smith, Austin’s Data Implementation Specialist, what he was like when he was in high school. He told us, “I like to think that I was (and still am) funny, kind, and liked by others.” Also, a large aspect of the social lives of the students at Austin are the clubs they attend and the teachers who moderate them. You can learn a lot about a person’s interests from the clubs that they are involved in, which is why we asked Mr. Silverthorn, the Assistant Director of Admissions, what club he would want to moderate, whether it currently exists at Austin or not. Mr. Silverthorn answered this question by telling us that he would want to moderate, “The Acoustic Music Club, which would hopefully help me to become a much better guitar player.”

Finally, to conclude our interviews, we asked the new faculty and staff members to share one interesting fact about themselves with that students of Austin Prep. Mr. Benning, who recently joined the Austin Prep History Department, shared his love of music with us by stating, “I love music. Pretty much all music. I even set up a Spotify playlist for my advisory group. I also play the banjo which goes along great with my beard and fake tooth.” Mrs. Eldridge, Austin’s External Affairs Assistant, answered this question as well, offering her support to Austin’s future college applicants and telling us, “I’m very excited to be here and I’m happy to help in any way I can. I went to Saint Anselm College and I’d love to talk to any seniors/juniors about the school if they are thinking of applying!”

As you can see, there are a lot of new additions joining Austin’s community this year. This is only a little sneak-peak into the lives and personalities of our newest faculty members. We hope that you’ll continue to get to know more about them and welcome them into our school as the year goes on.