M.A., Kent State University
About Mr. Spearman
Jake Spearman is no stranger to the boarding school experience. As a high-schooler, he was an actively involved day student at Western Reserve Academy as a football player, a lacrosse player, an actor, a student council member, editor of the newspaper, and more. And so, when, after 25 years as a successful sales and marketing executive, he decided to switch careers and become a boarding school teacher, he knew what he was after.
Jake fought hard for his business degree from Malone College, earning it after years of perseverance, juggling a career while attending school. While in school, he worked his way up through companies, earning promotions that eventually led him to the role of Vice President of Business Development for Alltel, a job that had him traveling all over the country.
“One day I came home, and my wife Alicia stopped me in the back hall,” he says. “Before I could get any further, she said to me, ‘You’re unhappy, and it’s impacting our family. Figure out what you want to be when you grow up.’ After much soul searching, I admitted to her that I had always wanted to be a boarding school teacher.”
What Jake was looking for was a lasting impact. He had watched his father make a career-ending decision, but observed as he became a beloved man and respected leader in his local community. After his father’s passing, Jake’s own career didn’t fulfill him like he needed it to. He kept coming back to the teachers and mentors who had shaped him as a teenager at Western Reserve. Within weeks of that fateful conversation with his wife, he walked away from the corporate world at age 46 and earned his Masters in Latin within one calendar year.
“I had always loved history and Latin,” he shares. “And, after doing some research, I figured out that I could fill a niche in the market… not too many Latin teachers weren't complete nerds, and even fewer could coach.”
The following spring, Jake landed a job teaching at the Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, New Hampshire, an all-male boarding school for grades 6-9. He taught Latin and English and coached football, skiing, and lacrosse. He learned quickly that he loved teaching and coaching, especially at an all-boys school.
“As a father of four boys, my wife bought me two books when they were young: The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian and Raising Cain by Kindlon and Thompson to help me read up on the subject. After reading these books, I observed the highly-ranked school system where we lived in Ohio was definitely not a boy-friendly environment. When I began teaching, at Cardigan, I knew immediately it was the right situation.”
In 2009, Jake discovered Avon Old Farms while touring boarding schools with his second oldest son, Jas '14. He says that he knew after five minutes on campus that Avon was where he wanted to teach and the school he wanted his boys to attend.
“The thing that struck me immediately was how Avon’s traditions were rooted in success over the years. Things were done not just because they were always done that way, but because it had been proven successful over many years in terms of dealing with boys,” he says. “I was fortunate to join the faculty in 2011 and my sons Jas, Chandler '15 and Henry '18 followed me here. Lo and behold, all of the studies that have come out in the last several years back us up. Structure. Routine. Living for a bigger mission than oneself. It works.”
Once here, Jake shares that during his first week at Avon, he was walking through the quad when the ‘A bear has been sighted on campus; Please do not approach the bear’ announcement came over the loudspeakers.
“I wondered where it was, as I wanted to see it. No sooner did I have that thought when 12 doors burst open, and kids flooded out with lacrosse sticks and hockey sticks yelling, ‘Where is it?’ At that moment I thought to myself, I found my tribe.”
Some of the most influential lessons faculty teach take place outside the classroom – on the practice field, in the dormitory, on the sidewalk, and in between classes. Every member of the faculty shares the same mission and the same dedication. And, Jake says it is simply the most remarkable place he has ever worked at and he feels privileged to be here.
“Teaching gives me the chance to exercise a positive influence on the boys that come through my classroom,” he shares. “When I get to work with a boy who might be a great athlete, but is indifferent in the classroom because he lacks confidence, I try to tap into his confidence on the athletic field. I tell him, ‘If you give 10% of that to your schoolwork, you’ll succeed.’ Then, I get to watch the ones who take that chance, and see it come through.”
Outside of the classroom, Jake loves coaching thirds football with Art Mehos.
“It’s like a dream come true. Every year, half the kids have never played before. We get to teach them the game, and how in football the sum is greater than the individual parts. Football is a tremendous team sport and watching the boys respond to that is so rewarding.”
Jake lives on campus with one of his dogs, Gus, during the school year. The other four dogs live at home in Maine with his wife, Alicia.
- All-League in prep-school football.
- Was an actor in high school, college, and in community theater. His favorite role was that of JB Biggley in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a role he played when at Western Reserve twice, once as a student and once as an alum, and a role his son Jas played at Avon.
- He is the author of four science fiction novels.
- He loves Italy, and says that there’s ‘Something about the way the light shines there that makes my soul happy.’
- He is an avid Cleveland Browns fan.