Q&A WITH TIM DEARY ’05
IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE
After graduating from Pomfret, the student has become the teacher.
When French Teacher Tim Deary graduated in 2005, no one would have thought to vote him “Most Likely to Teach at Pomfret." In fact, there was such a category in the yearbook back then, and according to our records, he received exactly no votes. In the early 2000s, Tim was better known as a singer and performer. He harmonized with the Grifftones and acted in the winter musical. Seventeen years later, his love for music and performance still remains, but it’s his unbridled passion for teaching — his innate desire to help young people uncover their own budding talents and interests — that has made him a rockstar on the teaching faculty. After all these years, the student has become the teacher, and as the saying goes, “It takes one to know one.”
Tell us about how you came to Pomfret.
I grew up in the town of Pomfret and took the bus to Pomfret Community School. Every day on the bus ride to school, we would pass by the Hilltop and the boys' varsity soccer field, and I knew that’s where I wanted to play soccer. I also had been doing community theater and singing since I was six years old. I worked with Bob Sloat and Ben Davidson and was constantly performing in Hard Auditorium.
What were some of your most memorable experiences as a Pomfret student?
I was a four-year member of the GriffTones, Pomfret’s vocal group. We got to travel and perform — it was amazing. I was also able to be in the student-directed musical my first year. I loved, and still love, the tradition of Airbands. The day boys and I had a lot of fun rehearsing our numbers.
It sounds like you were very passionate about singing and performing. Did you pursue it in college and consider it as a profession?
In college, I was very involved in Amherst's internationally renowned acapella group, the Zumbyes. During my junior year, we had many national performances in the spring. I only spent my fall semester studying abroad in France because I did not want to miss them. I knew that pursuing a career in singing was not as practical and that it’s difficult to make it in that business — I wanted more stability.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in French?
My semester abroad was a validating experience. I enjoyed being immersed in the culture and speaking French. I loved using the language that I enjoyed learning in the classroom for so many years. After one semester, I knew that I wanted to return to France after graduation.
What was your year living in France after graduating from college like?
I was a teaching assistant in Toulon and spent seven or eight months in the south of France. It was easy and cheap to travel, and I took advantage of it. I wanted to soak up as much of the French culture as I could. While I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and Spain, I only traveled to towns and cities in France. I spent less time speaking French than my semester abroad because I was teaching English, not French. I enjoyed the teaching part of my year abroad, but it was only twelve hours a week, and I didn't feel like I was developing professionally.
What made you decide to return to Pomfret as a teacher?
I enjoyed teaching in France and knew that I wanted to teach French in the States. I knew that if I went back to the boarding school environment, I could do all of the things that I loved when I was a student here at Pomfret. I looked forward to being a part of the arts and coaching the sports I loved while growing up. I was fortunate enough that there was an open teaching opportunity here at Pomfret.
Was your transition from student to teacher an easy one?
Because I was a day student, during my college breaks I would come in and say hello to my teachers. By the time I was hired I had already developed a relationship with teachers that was different than just your average alum. They had seen me progress and mature and I had developed a mentor relationship with my former teachers and coaches. They gave me opportunities that another new teacher might not have received. In my first year, I was able to be an assistant coach to the varsity teams that I played on as a student — and I hadn’t even played at the collegiate level. Bobby Fisher has become one of my closest friends and has allowed me to have some wonderful opportunities to perform with my colleagues and students in Chapel. He also gave me a chance to deliver a faculty Chapel Talk a couple of years ago. It was a special experience for me and I think it allowed my fellow faculty members to get to know me better and see how I have grown.
You wear a lot of hats here at Pomfret. What is your favorite?
My favorite hat or role is probably that of an advisor. I had so many great experiences as a student with Bob Sloat as my advisor. He showed me how much hard work and energy goes into being a great advisor. I try to replicate that in my advisory group. I also loved being an assistant coach to the boys JV basketball team and girls varsity soccer team.
How has Pomfret changed since you were in school?
Beyond the addition of new buildings or the renovations that have occurred since I was a student — like the renovation of Hard Auditorium and the Science Center to come — there have been so many enhancements to the programming. It has been awesome to see the evolution of QUEST and Project: Pomfret. And now I am taking on a more active leadership role in these signature programs.
What’s next in your career here at Pomfret?
I am interested in pursuing some more administrative goals here at Pomfret. I am serving as the Project: Pomfret coordinator this year and led our re-accreditation process a couple of years ago. I enjoy working with my colleagues in different ways. Who knows? Maybe I will be head of school one day. It feels like a long way off — I only graduated from Pomfret seventeen years ago, but that’s definitely on the horizon. It is exciting!