This year, the Mathematics Department welcomes new faculty member Eric Henry to Concord Academy. While new to CA, Henry is no stranger to education, having spent 15 years teaching at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Boston. In his own time, Henry likes to spend time in nature, enjoys hiking, and loves watching his 12-year-old daughter play field hockey while trying to keep their 5-month-old puppy from getting out of control.
Henry attended college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and worked as a software developer for ten years after his graduation. At first, Henry had no intention of being a teacher. His father also taught, and Henry had wanted to avoid it at all costs after hearing some “horror stories” about the profession. Ultimately, Henry came to realize that he could no longer ignore his roots in teaching, and he decided to go through a career switch program.
At the start of his teaching career, Henry was sure that he wanted to teach elementary special education. He acknowledged, “Math is so frequently used as a filter to keep students out of careers, even though in many cases it’s not directly applicable to the day to day skills required in the career, and so I did not want to have anything to do with math.” However, his mentor at the University of Massachusetts Boston helped him realize that he was capable of helping people tackle and push through the filter that is math. Skilled at the subject, Henry also began to tutor other teachers.
Jessica Kuh, Mathematics Department Head at CA and long-time friend of Henry, introduced him to CA. COVID-19 had opened Henry’s mind to the possibility of trying new things. Though he thought he was in a good place in Boston, further pondering the idea made Henry realize that CA could be the next step for him in his career.
Henry felt hooked by everything about CA, but he did have some hesitations. Henry said, “One of the things that drove me out of software is that I was around a lot of wealth and a lot of whiteness and assumptions of whiteness. I felt like I was missing out on being a part of really important work I wanted to do around social justice, and so that drove me into teaching. And, thinking about CA, I was afraid that it was going to be a place that really was the worst of what I imagined about private school.” His worries quickly subsided after he met the Community and Equity (C&E) team and witnessed CA’s commitment to social justice; he realized that this was definitely the new experience that he was looking for.
When describing his adjustment to CA, he was reminded of a phrase often used at MIT. Henry said, “[It] feels like drinking from a firehose.” Everything is new to him, and adjusting to having fewer teaching hours and about half the number of students as he did at the John D. O’Bryant school has given him a bit of that ‘firehose’ feeling. Regardless, Henry is excited to learn about all that CA has to offer. In particular, he is looking forward to building deep connections with advisees, which are relationships that he has seen between other students and faculty members that he cannot wait to share. Please welcome Eric Henry, the newest member of CA’s Mathematics Department!