by Campbell Bates, Staff Writer, November 2021
If you’re ever wondering about how much the Noble and Greenough School means to it’s students, just look at the number of former students who came back to Nobles after graduating. Currently, Nobles has over 20 alumni faculty members, with graduation years ranging from 1986 to 2015.
When asked about the similarities between Nobles now and when they were students, alumni staff members noted that this school still has the same “heart.” But despite the lasting foundation and similar core beliefs, Nobles has inherently changed as an institution.
One of the most significant changes Nobles has made over the years is increasing diversity, just in terms of sheer population. Alex Gallagher (N ‘90) said, “When I returned to Nobles in 2000, it was a much nicer school.” The facilities that English Faculty Richard Baker—formerly headmaster— built and the changes he made to the school were instrumental in the transformation of Nobles into the school it is today.
Gallagher said, “When I went here, [Nobles] was not one of the very best schools in the country, and now it is after 30 years of hard work.” Nobles was considered a “jock school” when Gallagher was a student, even though the sports teams weren’t always exceptional.
Now, Nobles athletes are finding success at a much higher level, and because the rest of the school has continued to excel alongside athletics, he considers Nobles more of an academic institution than when he attended.
Gallagher said “I don’t think [he] would’ve come back if the school hadn’t made some serious changes, which it did.” He too credits Baker for making improvements in necessary areas.
Though the school continues to push for changes, Gallagher keeps alive the same message of sportsmanship and inclusion that his predecessors once did. “I’ve tried really hard to hold onto what I remember being great about Nobles while also working really hard to continue to push for change, especially in the Diversity Equity and Inclusion [DEI] area,” he said.
One incredible part of staying at Nobles for a long time is that, “Former students become mentors, […] now Edgar teaches me things every day,” Gallagher said of co-Director of DEI Edgar De Leon (N ‘04)), one of his former students.
In the last 40 years, Assistant Head of School John Gifford (N ‘86) has been a student, intern, coach, teacher, parent, and administrator at Nobles. The most significant way Gifford’s diverse experience has impacted him is the valuable lessons from different aspects of his tenure at at this school that he is able to bring to the table. “I hope I have been able to see the complexity of different issues and the whole picture,” He said.
The pull back to campus that many alumni staff feel is rooted in the school’s value of connection. “The magic that can unfold when relationships are really strong [defines Nobles],” Gifford said. This is a common experience for many of the alumni staff and was the deciding factor for DeLeon to return.
Looking back on the valuable relationships he had made as a student, DeLeon said, “All these people that helped me grow were still here. I remember how valuable the relationships I made were and I wanted to do that for other students.”
The fact that so many alumni are drawn back after graduation speaks volumes about the beliefs of this community, even as the institution continues to make changes. DeLeon said, “The reason I came back is because I remember how I was mentored.” For DeLeon, his goal of mentorship is rooted in his history at Nobles. The incredible, ever challenging experiences of students are the reason for such a high return rate to campus.