Alumni

Adina Meyer ’81 and Jeff Blair ’84: From Tykoe to Team Teaching

“The Bush School started my teaching career. I’m driving down I-5 one afternoon in January, and I see Sis Pease, my US History teacher, driving next to me. She motions to me, and we get off at the next exit and end up having tea. She asks me what I’m doing, and that’s when I say I’m looking at getting into teaching. So she suggests that I get on the sub list at Bush, and I do.” —Jeff Blair

Adina and Jeff are both Bush graduates from the eighties and work as humanities teachers at the Northwest School in Seattle. Adina has a hearty laugh and is quick to tell a story; Jeff has an easy smile and thoughtful nature. They overlapped for a year at Bush and remember each other from the chance occurrences that happen at a small school.

Jeff: “Adina was a senior when I was a freshman.”
Adina: “We only knew each other because of the yearbook. I was the editor. You were supposed to take soccer pictures because you were obsessed with soccer. ”
Jeff: “I think I did take some pictures, but I didn’t know where they were. I couldn’t find the film!”

Both laugh, and start telling the story of the next time they met. It was the spring of 1989, and both Jeff and Adina were substitute teaching at Bush. Adina had just completed her master’s degree in the United Kingdom. It was Jeff’s first year out of college.

Jeff: “That fall, Adina had been hired at Northwest. They had someone quit the Friday before Labor Day and were scrambling to find someone. They hired me, and I started teaching at Northwest with Adina. Her partner for Tenth Grade Humanities was the one who had quit.”

Adina: “It was my first year of teaching. And this guy who was going to be my mentor, a very experienced teacher who told me not to worry about anything, quits the day before school starts. They hired Jeff to replace him. I still look back at that first year and think, we didn’t know what we were doing. We hung out all the time—people thought we were married. We were like, okay, it says Civil War here—I guess we’re going to teach about the Civil War. What are we going to do?”

Jeff: “You invited all the students to the house I was housesitting at for a Gone With The Wind movie night.”

Adina: “When I think about the stuff we did… It’s a terrible movie, and we didn’t deconstruct it at all.”

But both Jeff and Adina fell in love with teaching, and started transforming their students lives.

Jeff: “The way we both taught struck me as modeled off of the way we were taught at Bush.

Adina: “My philosophy in teaching these days is having a democratic classroom, and that was first modeled for me at Bush. I remember my teachers as role models. They were these brilliant, knowledgeable teachers, and I was this groupie. And Gardiner Vinnedge, I was just ga-ga over him.”

Jeff: “Was?”

Adina: “I still adore him. I do remember the amount of time the teachers took with me. They encouraged me to become who I really was, to have intellectual curiosity, to become a great writer. I remember Maeda taking us outside and saying, ‘I’m going to read to you today’—and I do this with my students sometimes—and she would read out loud to us in her deep, resonant voice.”

Jeff: “The breadth of curriculum is really something I appreciated. I didn’t become an artist, but everyone took art classes. I didn’t go on to act, but I was in five shows at Bush. I was wandering through Basemont one year at the wrong time, and Rob Corkran said, “Hey, do you want to try cross-country skiing?” I ended up being on the ski racing team for two years, and then I ended up coaching at Lakeside for four years. I run the program at Northwest now.”

Adina: “That’s one thing about Bush. We saw our teachers in all these other roles, and that’s something we model for our students now.”

As they talk, it's clear why Jeff and Adina are beloved teachers. They’ve made it their life’s work to fulfill the teaching philosophies that were sparked during their time at Bush—committing to connecting with students, creating a democratic classroom, and teaching through experiences.
 
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