Meet Mr. Baker: Culture Fellow

FB_IMG_1481376833479Mr. Baker was born in Holyoke, MA, and moved to Westborough, MA for high school. He studied International Relations and Political Science at Clark University in Worcester, MA. Mr. Baker became a rock climbing instructor and enjoyed several years of teaching people of all ages to reach beyond their perceived limitations throughout New England. Prior to joining the Alma del Mar team, he was proud to spend five years caring for his grandfather with severe Alzheimer’s/dementia. 
Why did you choose the Alma team?

From the first time I visited the school I was impressed with the culture and structure at Alma del Mar, specifically with how committed each and every teacher is to their scholars. As someone who is new to the field of education it seemed a perfect fit given the combination of my previous experience and needing to try something new. Now it’s hard to imagine working elsewhere.
What do you hope to contribute to Alma?
Prior to coming to Alma del Mar I spent five years caring for my grandfather, who suffered from severe Alzheimer’s/dementia. This was a challenge that helped me develop a deep sense of patience and empathy for those in our community who require support in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. Having spent so long cultivating these skills in service of someone’s mental regression, I thought it would be fitting to use try to use them to aid in someone’s personal progression.
What is your top goal during your first year at Alma?
My primary goal this year is to be the best sponge I can be. The main strength that Alma del Mar has is the effectiveness of the teachers that inhabit its classrooms and halls. I’m new to Alma but also new to education in general, and I feel learning everything I can from the wonderful staff and their years of wisdom is the surest way to improve the experience of our scholars, today and each day moving forward.
What teacher made a difference in your life — how?
I had a teacher in high school named Mrs. Simoneau. She taught Spanish, French, and German, in addition to fluently speaking Italian, Portuguese, and Greek. When I began high school I had already taken two years of Spanish and decided, against the wishes of my guidance counselor, to add German to my course list. Mrs. Simoneau recognized my enthusiasm for language and encouraged me to add French and Latin over the course of my time in high school. She would chat with me in between classes or after school in the language of my choosing, always reminding me that it is just as important to be an attentive listener as it is to be a confident speaker.
Why did you become involved in education?
I’ve always enjoyed the jobs I’ve had that involved working with children. I loved teaching kids how to climb when I was a climbing instructor. The idea that a kid could be freed from the constraints of perceived inability by my actions was (and continues to be) a powerful motivator. I was also tired of having jobs that were unfulfilling in terms of a greater sense of service. I grew up in a community that values commitment to an idea that is larger than yourself. After having completed a long-term commitment to my family, I decided education was the next logical step.
Where did you go to college? What did you like about it?
I studied International Relations and Political Science at Clark University in Worcester, MA. Like most college students, I was challenged by a difficult curriculum and unyielding professors. In retrospect, the most valuable aspect of my time there was the diversity of students and professors. I was fortunate to include among my professors a former ambassador to Yemen, politicians from Croatia, and leaders of NGOs from Ghana. A full 40% of the student body came from outside the United States. The localized context they were able to impart upon me as a result of their collective experience was more valuable than most of the books I was assigned to read. 
What is your favorite food?
Although I love tacos, ice cream, and pretty much any type of Indian food, there is absolutely nothing more delicious in this world than a perfectly ripe pear.
What is your favorite place?
My favorite place is the beach at any time of the year. It’s a place where one can relax, rejuvenate, sleep, or exercise. One can carry on with friends or exist comfortably alone. The water is as refreshing in August as it is bracing in January, each in its own way. Let’s go for a swim!
Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

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