January 15, 2013

Over the last month, we heard from several alumni who attended Community School during its first years in the 1970s and early 80s. They provided information on their education, current careers, global experiences, and memories of Community School. Over the next year, we’ll be reaching out to more of our alumni to gather information about their lives after CS, and we’ll be sharing that information periodically on this webpage .

1) Amy H. is working as the Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Maine, a nonprofit organization. She holds a M.A. in Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service, and a B.A. from Tufts in International Relations and French. She studied abroad in Paris, France.

2) Chuck W. is a Professor of History at Lehman College, City University of New York. He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University, a M.A. from the University of Washington (Seattle), and a B.A. from Swarthmore College. Chuck was a National Merit Scholar and received a Fulbright for study in China. He was an exchange student in Germany twice, studied Chinese and taught English in Taiwan twice, and lived in Nanjing while completing research for his Ph.D. Of his experience at CS, he noted the following:

I appreciate Community more and more.  I found my experience there incredibly grounding, and whenever I face a major decision, I try to think about  — what exactly?  It’s hard to say.  I feel like while there I had a joy of learning, a concern for the people around me, and a sense of community, all of which things I still value, and so I try to replicate as best I can the kind of learning that happened there.  

So many great teachers!  Lately I’ve thought a lot about learning to read with Froggie, which partly involved her active teaching and partly involved her good sense to let me sit on the steps looking at books even when the class was doing something else.  I remember discussing politics with Jenny C.  I remember art and sports with Mo (how lucky we were to have so much art!).  I remember Susanna Turner marching us through the boxwoods at the beginning of every year.  I remember the old community room when the high school was still there, and looking up to the guitar-playing kids and just feeling “wow”! (That must have been 1976 — they were gone soon after).  I remember collecting mulberries and playing kick the can and working the merry-go-round to high speed.  I remember our school Egypt project -especially the mural we made with tiles.  I remember performing the Sound of Music.  I remember all the words to “Circle Game.”  I remember a lot of dancing in the after school program to Grease and Saturday Night Fever.  I remember Mom (Joyce) working really hard. I remember discussing the merits of penguins and umbrellas with my brother (John) and Josh C.  I remember the cherry tree and the tire swing and the way the fields would flood when it rained a lot.  When I talk to other people about their schools, I feel really lucky to have had so many fantastic experiences with those people in that place.  

3) Steven K. is working as a data entry clerk for the homebuilding company Shelter Alternatives, as a bookkeeper at Kent Square Jewelers, and as a movie critic for the Floyd County publication A Muse Letter. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Virginia Tech. Steven observed, “I shall always be grateful for having had the privilege of attending Community School. This great institution planted the seeds of intellectual curiosity that have been blossoming for the rest of my life.”

4) Thomas V. is a Senior Program Manager, Zero Waste Network, for the University of Texas. He holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Arlington, is a Black Belt in Martial Arts, and has worked in Saudi Arabia as an environmental consultant. About CS, Thomas commented “So many fond memories. I am amazed in retrospect at how we were in those days. It is not what I see in other schools.”

5) Daniel K. works in IT Security for Microsoft. He holds a M.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics, both from James Madison University. Daniel is also a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He studied in Paris, France, and lived, studied, and worked in San Jose, Costa Rica. One fond memory he has of CS is “at the end of every year all of the students, parents and teachers would all join hands and sing, ‘It’s a Small World’ (with custom third verse, that the principal Susana wrote). I graduated/left in 1982.”

6) Ayn C. is an inspirational author of many books including Tracking the Deer (poetry), Consider This (non-fiction), Sparkle & The Gift (children’s book), The Windhorse: Poems of Illumination, Unquenchable Spiritual Fire (on poetry and prayer), and a novel with a summer publishing date. She is a practicing non-denominational minister and teaches the gift of prayer. She holds a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University and, after receiving an overseas research award from King’s College London, earned her Ph.D. there. She stayed in England for eleven years. Ayn commented,


I am truly grateful for Community School. My parents, Bill & Gwen Cates, were founding members and I started the year the school began. I believe Community School gave me the freedom I needed to explore my inner world so that I could become a writer. I remember Robin Crockett and his family very fondly. He supported my writing, showed us videos of Europe and helped me fall in love with literature. I also have fond memories of Suzanna Turner, who allowed me to create my own independent writing program and produce my first collection of poetry.