Le Retour

Retired faculty member Jim Rees returns to the classroom.


After teaching at Pomfret for more than thirty years, from 1984–2018, Jim Rees was enjoying his retirement in North Conway, New Hampshire. But after he received a call from World Languages Department Head Pablo Montoro Alonso, he found himself moving back to the Hilltop, climbing the stairs to the top of the School Building, and in the French classroom once again.

How did you end up back in the French classroom?
Pablo called and told me there was a French teacher position opening and asked me if I knew anyone who would be interested. Being retired, I don’t know many people who want to be a boarding school French teacher. He asked me to consider coming down and filling in temporarily. Everyone knows Pablo — he is a great guy! You can’t let him down. So, I moved back on Halloween and I'll teach until Thanksgiving. 

How does it feel to be back in the classroom?
It was not too hard to get back into the classroom. The students are fun. It took some adjusting for everyone because each person has a different vocal tone, but it has been fun. I know I can do it, and I haven’t fallen down the steps yet.
 

Jim with James DeNapoli ’24 and Finn DeNapoli ’26.

Have you run into any familiar faces on campus?
Of course! I have caught up with some of my colleagues from back in the day who are still teaching, including fellow French teacher Tim Deary ’05, whom I also had as a student. There are other faculty members who were students when I was here — Katie Duglin ’01, Josh Wildes ’04, Remy Hatfield ’13, and Jack Lyon ’17. I have also seen children of my former students. There is James DeNapoli ’24, the son of Grant DeNapoli ’93; his cousin Finn DeNapoli ’25, the son of Ted DeNapoli ’89; Van Horvath ’24, the son of Laurence Horvath ’89. It has been great. I was able to send pictures of us to Grant and Ted. I look forward to bumping into Nika Horvath ’26 and Grant’s daughter, Fallon DeNapoli ’26. 

What have you been up to in your retirement?
North Conway is primarily known as a tourist area, but there is a decent-sized senior group. I like to play nine holes of golf at a course only five minutes from my house. Meanwhile, Diane, my wife, plays pickleball. When we are done, we have lunch and decide what to do with the rest of our day. Sometimes we go kayaking or for a walk. Despite our location, I am not a 4000-footer guy. We also like to go bike riding. I ride the bike the School gave me for my retirement — the one Greg Rossolimo and Tim Richards put together. Diane's trying to get me to play canasta, but cards aren’t really my thing.

Were you speaking much French in your retirement?
Some of the people we play pickleball with are from Quebec, so I get a chance now and then. But they speak Québécois French, which is a little bit different. It’s not enough that we can’t carry on a conversation, but we tend to stick to English.

Any chance you might stay a little longer, perhaps through the winter term?
Oh, I don’t know, you call Diane. We are very busy in the winter. We go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I also have my model train sets in my basement that I used to set up in the basement of my faculty house on Grosvenor Road. But, it has been really fun to come back. I’m glad Pablo thought of me.

 

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