HeroVet: Art Goodearl, teacher
Each year at about this time, millions of students graduate across the country, a magical and memorable time for so many American families. It’s also a time we acknowledge those who make it happen-our teachers. In the Army’s own Art Goodearl, we honor those who teach our young people to go the extra mile, and help them develop the skills they need to become young adults and to survive life’s ups and downs beyond just a strong SAT score.
For Goodearl, it was the grunt work of basic training over 30 years ago while serving at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, that gave him the perspective to show the Middle School boys he now teaches that with the right attitude, the road to life can go wherever one wants.
The military taught me one huge lesson: It’s a lesson about happiness. When you are dealing with folks interested in putting you under immense pressure and stress all the time, you have to learn how to make the most of it," said Goodearl, assistant headmaster at the Hillside School in Massachusetts. "I’ve taught kids since [leaving the military], that you cannot wait for life to make you happy." [If you do],"you are going to have a long wait," he says.
Hillside is an independent junior boarding and day school for boys in grades 5-9, that for over 100 years, has specialized in balancing academic and life skills for boys in their most formative years. The School has developed a unique educational approach that not only ensures success during these critical adolescent years, but also builds the self-confidence and maturity needed beyond school for a successful adulthood.
Art’s years with the Army National Guard planted the seeds of his future career. Five years older than most of his peers, he found he could fill the gap by mentoring. And being a Harvard College graduate allowed him to make a unique contribution; he could share his perspective and knowledge with his fellow soldiers, who were at an age where they could mostly recall only their High School Senior Prom. "[It was] an opportunity to be helpful for others." And, in the process, "I began to notice that teaching and education would be good for me," he said.
Ten years ago, Hillside was facing real challenges. Founded in 1901, it was a school rich in educational history and beautifully situated on 200 bucolic acres of fields, forest and ponds in scenic Marlborough, Massachusetts. Yet, it was struggling with a leadership gap and the tough economic realities of the 1990’s. To confront the crisis, the school persuaded David Beecher, a gifted educator and Choate alumnus, who had been a student of Goodearl’s, to take charge as headmaster.
Five years ago, Beecher lured Goodearl from his teaching post at Choate to come on as Assistant Headmaster at Hillside. The results have been nothing short of extraordinary. Enrollment has doubled, the school has built millions of dollars in new facilities, and added dozens of new academic, leadership, social and community programs. It is now widely recognized as an innovator and emerging leader among middle boarding schools. With a student teacher ratio of 6:1, academic and social tutorials, the only institution of its kind with a working farm and farm curriculum, and a wealth of cultural opportunities in nearby Boston, it is a school that is making its mark.
On the patriotic front, Goodearl has also played a role in strengthening Hillside’s close and longstanding relationship with the National Society for Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), an organization dedicated to historical preservation, promotion of education, and encouragement of patriotic endeavor. Hillside is a designated DAR School, one of only six schools nationally supported financially by the DAR, and is recognized by the DAR for its a structural and supportive environment and its specialized learning programs for boys.
"Art had a distinguished career at one of the finest boarding schools in the country, and yet was motivated to move to Hillside to help us reach previously unrealized goals, Beecher said recently. "Our dramatic growth and development over the last five years would not have happened without Art Goodearl’s leadership and involvement."
Reflecting on what he learned from his military service and how that has influenced his teaching philosophy, Goodearl said, "You learn a lot about patience, and you learn about humility."
And who was his greatest influence in the military?
"Sgt. Burnett. He was a drill instructor who never raised his voice," Goodearl said.