CCA Humanities Department Chair Teaches Kids That Life is an Invitation to Go Exploring
It is entirely possible that when Scott was just a boy at school, nobody – especially Scott himself – would have predicted a future in academia. Schooling just wasn’t his thing. But he stayed with it, getting his BA in anthropology at Maryland and his Masters at St. John’s in New Mexico.
The route was circuitous. If being a bartender doesn’t teach you about human nature, nothing will. One summer, some patrons tipped him that they needed help at the zoo, and Scott became the temporary assistant to Ralph the Bear Guy. He has this great story about the Kodiak that met him at the gate to his cage every day. With claws the size of pruning hooks, the bear would try the door to see if it was ever unlocked. The message seemed to be that if Scott had ever forgotten to lock the door, the bear looked forward to devouring him like a gumdrop.
He got his feet wet teaching ESL in Japan, then at Emerson Prep School in Washington DC. Happily, Scott’s trail led him to an interview at Cape Cod Academy. He drank some orange juice at Morning Meeting and found himself increasingly impressed by how bright and interesting our kids were. We offered Scott a job, and he has been here since… 22 years and counting. He found a wonderful wife and their son Dylan is thriving in 8th grade. Thus we landed the man who’d serve for a time as dean of the upper school and for a much longer stretch as the chairman of our Humanities Department.
Students as young as sixth-graders and seasoned seniors get the benefit of his experience, wide-ranging intellect, high standards, and gentle soul. “He makes you do the work,” says Lily in the sixth grade, “but he also makes it interesting and gets everybody involved. He doesn’t have favorites. We’re all involved.” CCA seventh-graders chime in, “He’s so interesting… full of good stories.” There is appreciation for his emotional dependability. “You can count on his being the same good guy every time you see him.” For adolescents, that is huge.
Ask Scott about the kids, and he will tell you he is continually amazed at the trust they give their teachers here. “They buy into where we are trying to go. No us vs. them… the kids value that we are for them – on their side. Year after year, they head off to college with the same expectation of relationships with their professors. It sets them apart.”
Our small size is strength as Mr. Andrews sees it. “You can know everybody… try new things and experiment with various aspects of yourself. Kids are less apt to be pigeonholed into nerds and jocks. They can at least try to become all their various selves.”
Ask about his own strengths and there is a long pause as Scott stares off into the distance. He loves ideas – and he gets to engage with ideas in a lot of ways as a teacher. Remembering his own days in school, Scott appreciates how difficult things can be for some of our kids. He is always looking for ways to make things relevant… that his students can see what is at stake in the history they learn. Scott takes it seriously – and offers reasons why they should, too.
There is an empathy that shows in Scott, in his teaching, in his coaching. “I have to remember that what is obvious to me at 56 is not necessarily obvious to the kids – especially in middle school. I can see myself as a kid, sitting across the table. Maybe they haven’t figured it out yet.”
Perhaps, but our graduates have – and remember Mr. Andrews as a pivotal figure in their CCA experience. “Your class changed the way I see the world,” wrote one, “and I looked forward to it every day.” Because of Scott, another graduate wants to become a teacher. “’I don’t know’ has become the best thing to hear because you have taught me that it is - and life is - a wonderful invitation to go exploring. “
One of our international students gets the last word in a letter she wrote after graduation. “You have shown me what it means to be kind, caring, supportive, wise, and simply lovely. Teacher, advisor, mentor, and friend.”