Teachers on Sabbatical: Mr. Marshall and Mr. O'Toole

Brianna Yang

Next year, we will be without two of our beloved teachers.

        Our own registrar/History teacher, Mr. O’Toole, will take a leave of absence to return to the Haitian trauma hospital where he has volunteered previously. Mr. O’Toole has been considering more long-term volunteering for a while now, and he is interested in continuing to volunteer after he returns to Latin. That said, he acknowledged that he is unsure what his stamina will be upon returning  from Haiti, and that he may want to take a break.

 

        In Haiti, Mr. O’Toole’s average day will consist of waking up, taking a cold shower, going to the triage and attending anywhere from 10 to 100 people for twelve hours, then sleeping, and doing it all over again the next day. Mr. O’Toole stated that “The work is interesting because of the rotating groups of volunteers, all of varying ages and backgrounds.” Mr. O’Toole remarked that because he lives in the hospital, he’ll rarely go out and see the rest of Haiti. Occasionally, excursions to the mountains or the beaches will be arranged, and Mr. O’Toole is interested in seeing “the countryside [and] where [the people he treats] live and not where they’re coming to is really interesting.” Mr. O’Toole joked that what he’ll miss most about Latin is the food, but went on to include that he will miss spending time with the  faculty members and students, too.

        Mr. Marshall, the renowned English teacher, will spend his sabbatical researching schools that use alternative student evaluation and grading methods; specifically in the ways that they motivate students to invest in learning for the sake of learning, rather than for a specific ACT or SAT score. While Mr. Marshall only has some preliminary research at the moment,  he plans on writing about all the knowledge he acquires from observing and understanding the these schools, but does not expect that he’ll come back as “some no-grade crusader.”

       The most jarring change for Mr. Marshall will be the lack of routine and social interaction that a school environment provides. Mr. Marshall remarked that he has been going to school ever since he was five years old, and that next year would have been his 33rd year as a teacher. Mr. Marshall noted that his biggest worry is the loneliness he’ll feel without the everyday  interactions with students and other faculty. In order to fill his own void, Mr. Marshall intends on taking art classes and potentially getting certified as a personal trainer. However, Mr. Marshall is looking forward to taking a break from the pattern and routine of school, and he observed that “every once in a while, you have to think of yourself as a human being and not as a teacher.”

        One peculiar observation that Mr. Marshall had is that when he returns to Latin after his sabbatical, he will not have taught anyone in the school since he only teaches juniors and seniors. So when Mr. Marshall walks back into Latin in the autumn of 2015, he will have the opportunity to start entirely fresh.

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