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Michael Symes

Michael Symes

Dean of Students, Science Faculty
B.S., United States Military Academy

About Mr. Symes

Mike Symes grew up in Reading, Massachusetts, playing hockey—an attribute that would bring him to Avon Old Farms School in the fall of 1979 as a sophomore. He had dreams to play hockey, get into West Point, and one day come back to Avon Old Farms. He did all three.

While Mike came to Avon as a hockey recruit, what he found here was a structured environment that became his home. Strong mentors and coaches helped Mike excel in the classroom, on the ice, and in the community. He was a hockey forward, a dorm monitor, and a member of the Nimrod Club. He remembers Avon as a place that pushed him outside of his comfort zone and while offering him the support to do so.

“I had such a great experience as a student,” he says. “I truly loved the school and could not wait to return to campus after long winter and summer breaks.”

It was that love for the school that gave shape to his dreams post-Avon: the environment at Avon deepened Mike’s conviction to make it to West Point. He had dreams of serving in the military for 20 years, retire, and return to the school that had become his home. Mike did receive an appointment to the United States Military Academy, where he studied engineering. Life is funny and a longer military career wasn’t in the cards. However, after many years in real estate, he was able to fulfill his ultimate dream. In 2008, Mike returned to Avon as a teacher, mentor, and coach. 

“As a student I knew Major John Bourgault, and we kept in touch after our Avon days. I knew that he had served and then returned to Avon as an educator, so I knew it was possible. I knew that Avon was looking for that triple threat: faculty who wanted to do more than teach...they needed coaches and people who wanted to be with the students in the dorms. It took a few years for the right opportunity to open up, but when it did I pulled out all of the stops to make it happen. It’s been the best decision I have ever made. There are no bad days at Avon!”

In the classroom, Mike teaches geology—as he says, the history of the Earth. He says his real aim is to make his students more environmentally aware of their surroundings and what is happening in the world.

“There is so much that our students have seen but don’t understand,” he explains. “If I can draw those experiences out and use them to connect material to the real world, I hope that they will take that knowledge with them back home and will talk about the issues in the world today. I know that my students are the ones who will change the world, and I hope to help make that a positive change.”

In 2013, Mike’s son Tucker joined the Avon brotherhood as a member of the Class of 2016. Mike says that it was one of his proudest moments knowing he gave his own son the gift of an Avon education. While the facilities had changed from his own time as a student, the values Avon promotes and the way in which it does so remained steady through the years. 

“As I head to the classroom, walk down to the athletic fields or mix it up in the dorm, I hope to impact boys' lives with the same experience I had so many years ago.”

Mike now enjoys living in Pelican Dorm, coaching hockey and lacrosse, and teaching science. He lives with my wife and they have two grown children.

Fun Facts:

  • Mike was one of the first hockey players to be recruited in 1979 by Coach John Gardner. It was the beginning of Avon’s hockey dynasty.
  • Mike’s bloodhound, Uhtred, is named for the Viking warrior in television series The Last Kingdom.
  • Mike’s son Tucker, Avon Old Farms Class of 2016, followed in his father’s footsteps and attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. Class 2020.
  • Mike ran up Mount Washington all the while thinking how bad could it be - It’s only One Hill!