“Barry and Karen Mills arrived in Brunswick with plans to make the College and the town a better place. One of the first places they left their mark was in Bowdoin’s relationship with the public schools.”
When we heard that Bowdoin’s new president would be sending his kids to Brunswick public schools, teachers were pleased and flattered. He and his wife certainly had options, and we passed muster. It was a completely different story when I learned that his oldest son, Will, would be entering my Latin III class as a sophomore, after studying Latin at Trinity High School in New York. My reaction to this news was sheer, abject terror. Trinity has a Classics department, populated by PhD holders. This kid was going to eat me for lunch.
Of course, anyone who knows Will, or Henry, or George, knows how groundless my fear was. This skinny kid with a constant grin on his face would not eat anyone for lunch. His Latin was pretty good, but it didn’t shame my program. He wasn’t thrilled to have moved from Manhattan to Bumpkinville, Maine, but he made the best of it. I got full measure of Will, and through him his family, on the morning of September 11, 2001. Our class was reading Cicero, and I was trying to continue teaching despite the horrifying news that was trickling into the school. I would turn the TV on for updates, then go back to Cicero, hoping to keep kids calm on this horrific day. Finally, Will raised his hand and said respectfully but firmly, “That’s happening a few blocks from where I used to go to school. Cicero has been around for 2,000 years, and he’ll be here tomorrow. Can we watch the news?”
That was the beginning of eleven years of having some Mills boy in my classroom. They were funny, polite, insightful, hard workers, all-around great kids. But they were also honest, humble, and eager to make the world a better place.
Barry and Karen Mills arrived in Brunswick with plans to make the College and the town a better place. One of the first places they left their mark was in Bowdoin’s relationship with the public schools. On Open House Night that first year, Barry, wearing a grin identical to Will’s, spoke to me and to all of Will’s teachers personally, expressing his and Karen’s support and satisfaction. They attended cross-country meets and lacrosse games. They must have made their appreciation of our programs known to college faculty, because before long my classes were well populated with faculty kids. Our ties with Bowdoin’s education department have strengthened, resulting in several mentoring opportunities for aspiring teachers. We have access to the library, where I have brought classes for research periodically, as well as to the art museum. In the past few years, the college has invited our faculty for afternoons of professional collaboration, during which I have been graciously welcomed by the classics department. Finally, every year Bowdoin accepts BHS graduates. This year, two first-year students are the children of BHS faculty.
Barry Mills enriched my career by sending his boys my way and by consciously strengthening Bowdoin’s ties with the high school. He has left his mark on Bowdoin and on Brunswick.
Latin Teacher, Brunswick High School