Former Choate Students Teach Choate Students

Has the thought of teaching at Choate ever crossed your mind? If not, you’d be surprised at how your perspective might change in the next ten years. Choate faculty come from diverse backgrounds — including many who were once Choate students themselves.

Will Nowak ’06

Photo courtesy of Michael Li

Mr. Will Nowak ’06, a current math and computer science teacher, attended Choate for “the excellence that prep school hockey had to offer.” He began working at Choate immediately after college.

Mr. William Nowak ’06, a mathematics and computer science teacher, attended Choate “for the excellence that prep school hockey had to offer,” he said recently. Mr. Nowak’s transition from Choate student to Choate teacher was not the result of “meticulous planning” but just “a series of coincidental and fortunate circumstances.” After graduating Choate, Mr. Nowak attended Northwestern University, majoring in math and economics while practicing semi-professional road cycling. Immediately after graduating from Northwestern, Mr. Nowak began teaching at Choate.

As a teacher, Mr. Nowak has gained new insights on the school. Mr. Nowak said, “I wasn’t super intellectual before Choate, but now my primary enjoyment comes from the life of the mind.” In keeping with this mentality, Mr. Nowak does not own a TV. Mr. Nowak said that he is “proud of the curiosity and life-long habit of learning gained from Choate.” Not only has Choate affected Mr. Nowak’s interests, but also his sense of identity. He explained, “Choate’s constant reminders of respect and inclusion have made me my best self.” He thinks that if he took a more traditional job after college, he “would not have learned as much or come to care as much about issues of societal equity.”

Michael Velez ’00

Photo courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Photo courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Mr. Michael Velez ’00, who was a member of Christian Fellowship and a radio co-host while a Choate student, described the opportunity to teach at Choate as “too good to pass up.”

Mr. Michael Velez ’00, HPRSS teacher and a fifth form dean, said that his most pivotal moment at Choate was when his sixth-form adviser told him, “Don’t wish this place away too quickly: all too soon, your wish will come true.” While a Choate student, Mr. Velez was a prefect, a member of Christian Fellowship, a writer for The Press, the co-host of a Choate radio show, and a member of the varsity hockey and lacrosse teams. After attending Choate, Mr. Velez studied history at Middlebury College. “I had such an amazing experience as a student,” Mr. Velez said. “The opportunity to come back and work to enhance the experiences of the students that I engage with in the classrooms, dorms, athletics, and co-curricular activities in meaningful ways was too good to pass up.”

Gordon Armour ’76

Photo courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Photo courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Mr. Gordon Armour ’76 was the second member of his family to attend Choate, following in the footsteps of his older brother. He soon returned to Choate as an English teacher.

Mr. Gordon Armour ’76, English teacher and a third-form dean, came to Choate following his brother, who graduated the spring before Mr. Armour’s freshman year. Looking back recently on his Choate career, Mr. Armour described witnessing “panty raids,” which involved students from one gender sneaking into the opposite gender’s dorms after curfew. He said, “A couple times a year, all the boys would run out of their dorms at midnight and up the hills to the girls’ dorms. The boys would come into the dorm and run around like crazy people. The next morning, if some guy planned ahead well, there would a few panties, or a bra or two, hanging on the trees. It was very medieval and weird.”

After college, Mr. Armour attended Trinity College, in Hartford. At first, he believed he would end up like his father — a banker — but then realized he had no interest in the field. Mr. Armour enjoyed being an English major and rowing at Trinity, and he wanted to continue his experience with both. A job at Choate provided that opportunity.

Tim Bradley ’73

Photo courtesy of Tim Bradley

Photo courtesy of Tim Bradley

Mr. Tim Bradley ’73 was the Chair of  the Judicial Committee while a high school student. He later returned to the Choate Admissions Office  as Associate Director of Admissions.

Mr. Tim Bradley ’73, Associate Director of Admissions, was inspired to attend Choate by John F. Kennedy ’35. Mr. Bradley joked, “You could go to any black person’s house in America and you would see three pictures on the wall: Jesus, John Kennedy, and Martin Luther King.” While at Choate, Mr. Bradley served as the Chair of the Judicial Committee, a position that transformed his view on social issues. Mr. Bradley, who is from Chicago, said, “In 1969, no one forgot they were black. In my neighborhood, white people beat you up and tried to kill you.” He added, “I had never met any friendly white people before Choate.”

Mr. Bradley described Choate’s myriad opportunities as both empowering and alienating. He explained, “After graduating from Choate, I felt like a survivor of a plane crash. Why was it me? I had a lot of brothers, and I wondered why it wasn’t them graduating from Choate instead: ‘He’s smarter than me,’ I would think, ‘So why not him? Why am I able to travel farther and have a better chance?’”

After attending Tufts University, Mr. Bradley took a job in the music business, working with artists from CBS, A&M, and MCA Records. However, he still had nagging thoughts about the privileges afforded to him by Choate, often with the refrain: “Do something meaningful. Do something that matters to people other than you.” To accomplish these goals, Mr. Bradley returned to Choate, where he currently works in admissions.

Nicole Stock ’05

Photo courtesy of Isabelle So

Photo courtesy of Isabelle So

Ms. Nicole Stock ’05 returned to Choate as an admissions officer and coach, entering an environment where “kids challenge you and you challenge them back.”

Ms. Nicole Stock ’05, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information, came to Choate to play hockey. After graduating from Choate, she attended Brown University and coached hockey at Northeastern University. When given the opportunity to work at Choate, Ms. Stock felt that it “seemed like a good fit to coach and be a part of something different,” and she knows that students gain important lessons from team sports. “I love coaching,” she said. “I’m in a learning environment where kids challenge you, and you challenge them back.”

While the experiences of Choate alumni faculty differ, each agreed that his or her time at Choate has been deeply meaningful — both as students and as faculty members. For these members of the Choate community, four years simply wasn’t enough.

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