By Dana Zamat
It’s no surprise that Byram Hills is a welcoming place where faculty and students become a family. Recently, a new member of the Byram family was added! I interviewed this addition, Mr. Fuller, our new Physics teacher. He was not only kind and courteous, but his life proved to be very captivating. Because he was approachable, we were able to carry a conversation easily, as his welcoming personality made him easy to talk to. Originally from Mahopac, Mr. Fuller has been teaching for nine years, and physics is one of the many subjects he has taught before.
Interviewer: Where are your past teaching experiences?
Mr. Fuller: For the last two years, I taught in Hendrick Hudson in Montrose. For the six years before that, I taught on the west edge of Detroit.
Interviewer: What subjects have you taught?
Mr. Fuller: In Detroit, I taught Physics, Astronomy, and Geometry. In Hendrick Hudson, I taught engineering design and applied engineering.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite subject to teach?
Mr. Fuller: Physics. That’s why I came here because it was a chance to teach Physics and that’s what I wanted.
Interviewer: For how long have you been teaching?
Mr. Fuller: This is my ninth year.
Interviewer: How are you liking Byram Hills so far?
Mr. Fuller: I love it. Everything I have heard about it is true. Everything’s great: kids are great, staff is great. Everyone’s committed to doing what’s best for education, not just doing something to pass a test or anything like that.
Interviewer: How is it different from your previous schools?
Mr. Fuller: It’s not that much different than Hendrick Hudson, both are in Westchester with similar populations. In Detroit, it’s very very different. There were a bunch of challenges at the school. Obviously, the families in Armonk have a lot more money than families in Detroit. But it’s not just about the money. The families here are more committed to the education and more involved in education. I don’t necessarily care that everybody in Byram Hills is going to go to college; I care more that if I call home and say, “so and so is struggling and they need extra help,” someone’s going to answer the call and make sure that the kid will come in for help. In Michigan, this was not the case. There were a lot of single parent families, who meant well and were trying very hard, but it’s really difficult to communicate with the parents when many weren’t on top of their children’s work. It left a lot of frustration because, at the end of the day, I am still responsible for making sure the student learns, but I felt like I was the only one who cared. And that was a very difficult situation to work with as in the long term, it leads to burnout.
Interviewer: How did you start your teaching career?
Mr. Fuller: I graduated undergrad from the University of Michigan and I worked, actually, in the Nonprofit Sector for a while, totally unrelated to anything. I then worked in the Engineering field, which is what my degree was in, and I hated it! I worked at a job, basically staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day, not talking to anybody, and just doing my thing. The only aspect I liked about that job was when I got to teach other people how to use the software that we used. From experiences like these, I realized that my gut instinct to be a teacher should be pursued. I was probably 27 when I went back to school and got my teaching degree. I did that at Eastern Michigan University. I spent two and a half years, some part-time, some full-time, taking classes and student teaching. The first job I got was in the school that I had been doing student teaching in. The teacher that I had shadowed was transferring positions in the school, and she recommended for me to take her spot. I was actually getting ready to move to New York then because I am originally from this area, and my house was on the market with everything ready to go. I then got a call from the school that said, “Do you want to interview for this job that you have been recommended for?” I responded, “Okay.” I ended up sticking around and taught there for six years.
Interviewer: Do you have any family living with you here in New York?
Mr. Fuller: I live with my girlfriend, and my brother lives in Pound Ridge, which is very close. I am originally from Mahopac, so I have friends in this area, but my extended family is originally from Michigan, so I went to the University of Michigan to be near them. My mom and dad followed me to Michigan, so they live in Michigan now. I still have my brother here in New York.
Interviewer: Do you visit them often?
Mr. Fuller: Yeah! I was actually there last week and for Rosh Hashanah too.
Interviewer: This is a random question, but if you were deserted on a desert island, what would you bring with you?
Mr. Fuller: Limited to anything? I can just bring anything I want?
Mr. Fuller: Could I bring a boat?
Interviewer: That would make sense!
Mr. Fuller: The camper in me would just bring emergency supplies like a fire starter, maybe an emergency blanket to make a shelter and something to fashion into a bowl to boil water- stuff like that. I am fairly confident that if I have just the basic supplies, I can survive in extreme situations like that.
Interviewer: Do you have any hobbies?
Mr. Fuller: Camping, backpacking, rock climbing, golf, and running. I just ran the Detroit Marathon last week.
Interviewer: Oh wow! That’s amazing.
Mr. Fuller: That was my second time running it; I ran it last year too. It’s nothing like Mr. Walsh. He’s running a marathon in, like, every state of the country!
Interviewer: Wow! Thank you so much for your time.
Mr. Fuller: No problem.
Mr. Fuller was no doubt approachable and very warm. Both intriguing and captivating, his experiences in life have shaped him into the person he is today. Though I am not personally a student of his, he clearly cares about his students and their education. Please welcome Mr. Fuller into our Byram family!