From John Zaber: In the old Marshall Tucker Band song “I Heard It In A Love Song” the singer professes his love for his long-time partner, “I ain’t never been with a woman long enough for my boots to get old. Now we’ve been together so long my boots need to be resoled.” Well, I’ve been at Sterling long enough that I’ve not only resoled my boots but I’ve purchased a bunch of new ones as well. It’s now time to turn my attention to new ventures in life. At the conclusion of the spring semester I will be retiring from my full time role as a proud member of the Sterling faculty.

One of the contributing factors in this decision is my diagnosis of Parkinson’s. I’ve learned one of the primary methods to slow the progression of Parkinson’s is through regular and rigorous physical activity. Sadly, full time employment and my need for movement do not make for a complementary relationship.

I arrived at this decision after a long period of contemplation, because I love the Sterling community and all that you have contributed to my life. The support, guidance, and good humor that we have shared over the years has made me a better person. You were with Farley and me for the birth of our daughter and helped us raise her. You have been there during the passings of my parents and Farley’s. Together we’ve shared fires, meals, and shelters of many Winter Expeditions. We’ve shared the politics of our nation and the world. We’ve cried on each other’s shoulders at deaths in our community and celebrated the births of your children. We’ve shared aspirations of being a more committed, conscientious and informed citizen and educator. I am a better person because of you!

Although this letter may appear to be a departure from Sterling, it is only a departure from my role as a member of the full time faculty. There will, perhaps, be the potential for me to teach a couple of classes going forward. Most of you know where I live and are always welcome to stop by for a cup of tea.

I first arrived at Sterling as a student in the fall of 1983. Farley and I would return to Craftsbury in the spring of 1990. In the fall of 1994 I was helping to build a house for Sam and Polly Russell. Sam was a Sterling board member and an architect (he led the design and construction of the McCarthy Barns and the Brown Library), Polly was Director of Admissions – both were alum parents. After breaking a bone in my foot I had to inform them I would need to take a break from working on their house. I asked Polly what she was up to and she explained that she was interviewing candidates for the Admissions Counselor position. I mentioned to Polly that I was interested and (to make a long story short) I was ultimately hired. When I returned to Sterling, this time as an employee, I had no idea that Sterling would become my professional passion: Admissions Counselor, Director of Admissions, Dean of Students, fulltime Faculty in Outdoor Education, and Director of Learning Support. Who knew that my broken bone would lead to such significant growth in my personal and professional life. I suggest you pay attention to moments of serendipity, you just never know what lies beyond that threshold.

I am blessed to have you in my life. Whatever challenges and celebrations the future holds for me will be greeted with the knowledge that I am a lifelong member of the Sterling community and, in turn, I will always have your back.

So, I would like you to contemplate the following, because at Sterling we are all educators and as such our community is full of great and meaningful educators:

“Education is an act of love, and thus an act of courage.”

Paulo Freire

Oh, and feel free to share a joke or haiku with someone you love! It never hurts to laugh!

Filed Under: Blog Outdoor Education