Mr. Rick DuPuy '99 is an almunus of St. Albans and is teaching Latin to the Upper School students at NCS.
How did you know that teaching was a career path that you wanted to pursue? What exactly about the community on the Close inspired you to apply to become a teacher here?
Mr. DuPuy: As a student I always loved the subjects we studied in school, and I always enjoyed helping my classmates figure things out. Some of my classmates from high school calculus recently reminded me that they used to phone me up when confused by a question and ask me to help explain it to them – I vaguely recall this happening occasionally, but my friends say that it was a regular occurrence!
As for NCS, the first point to mention is that I’m an alumnus of Beauvoir and Saint Albans, and sang in the Cathedral choir while I was here; so I’m very familiar with the Close. I’m also one of the change ringers who ring the peal bells at the Cathedral and have occasionally helped out with the Whitechapel Guild. So I heard about the job opening here both through friends on the Close and from other Latin-teaching friends — the world is often a surprisingly small one!
Out of every teacher or mentor that you have encountered in your life, who would you argue had the most meaningful impact on you?
I find this question impossible to answer because I have fond memories of so many of my teachers, coaches, theatrical directors, and musical conductors! I know that they have all influenced me, sometimes in ways that I don’t even realize. Certainly I cannot argue that anybody was the most meaningful, but I can think of many who were meaningful in some way — some of whom are still teaching at Saint Albans today and whom it's an honor to now have as colleagues!
To pick an example more or less at random, whenever I sing or play piano today I can see the influence of my choirmasters at the Cathedral, Robert Lehman in junior choir and Douglas Major in senior choir — it was from singing in the choir that I learned to take responsibility for myself musically and make entrances bravely without waiting timidly to hear my neighbor sing first. To this day, likewise, whenever I make a musical mistake I automatically raise my hand to let the (now imaginary!) choirmaster know that I’ve caught myself and will take responsibility for fixing it next time — when this occurs in theatrical rehearsals my fellow cast-members are always amused!
What kind of student were you in high school? How do you think you would have fit in with students on the close today?
Academically, I was a very eager student who was always overworked and didn’t sleep enough. But I was never very concerned about grades or getting into college; I simply was genuinely interested in the coursework and wanted to please my teachers. Unfortunately, I tended to struggle with organization (my bag was always a mess) and with writer’s block (my papers were often late). Apart from academics, I sang in Chorale, acted in plays and musicals, kayaked with Voyageur, and wrote occasionally for the Independent, so I’m pleased to see that all those activities are still going strong!
I was lucky to be part of a graduating class which got along really well together. Like all classes we had cliques to some extent, but the boundaries were very fluid and everybody seemed to like and respect one another; and of course we all loved our teachers. We were a very disparate lot, but I believe most of us recall our high school years as happy ones.
When you’re not teaching how do you like to spend your free time? Any uncommon talents or hobbies?
I am one of the change ringers who ring the peal bells at the Cathedral, which is a wonderful hobby. Unlike the Whitechapel Guild at NCS, Saint Albans students don’t have an opportunity to learn to ring while they’re here, so I started to learn later, as an adult. My first few years learning to ring were magical: childhood is full of the feeling of satisfaction that comes from learning and growing and making progress and often as adults we don’t get enough opportunities to experience that — so it was really exciting as a new bellringer to feel that thrill again as I attended practice each week and wrestled with new challenges. Now, much of the pleasure of ringing comes from helping pass that along to the next generation of ringers.
I also still perform theatrically from time to time, mainly in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, comic light operas — the ancestors of today’s musicals — which they wrote in the 1870s, 80s, and 90s. The most well-known are probably HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance, but they wrote fourteen altogether and I’ve now appeared in them all, most recently playing Reginald Bunthorne in a production of Patience last June. (Some of my students from the school I substitute-taught at last year came to see the show, which I found very touching!)
Finally, I’m an active social dancer, regularly attending our local contradance and occasionally going swing or blues dancing too. (Contradancing is the old east-coast folk dance of the United States, and it’s a little like the English dancing you can see in Jane Austen movies – but much faster and more breathless.) We dance to live music every week, in a range of musical styles, and with a wonderfully friendly community of dancers.