M.A.L.S., Wesleyan University
Teacher: History Department Chair
Mentor: Public Speaking Club Advisory; Jennings Dorm Team
Coach: Assistant Soccer Coach
When Connecticut native Brian Cugell joined the Avon Old Farms faculty in 2004, it was at the suggestion of a childhood friend and Avon alumnus.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to teach, and I guess my friend saw a little bit of a Man of Avon in me,” Brian said. “I wrote a letter to the Dean of Faculty, and he invited me to campus for a tour. I absolutely fell in love with the campus and its inhabitants, and the rest, you could say, is history.”
Brian came to Avon Old Farms after double-majoring in English and Spanish at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. By the first semester of his junior year, Brian had met all of his English major requirements, and began to take multiple history classes to fill his course load where he discovered his passion for American history.
Brian embraced the Avon lifestyle, dedicated himself as a teacher, coach, and dorm parent. He taught Spanish for five years before beginning his transition into the History Department. In addition, Brain has coached soccer, worked in the dorms, and has co-directed summer programs, liaising between the school and vendor programs making use of our campus during the summer months.
Through it all, Brian’s strong work ethic compelled him to work full-time and earn a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan University in 2010. He was honored with Avon’s Kenneth Fanning Faculty Award that same year.
“This all came on the heels of marrying my wife Morgan in 2009. We’re both from Madison, Conn., and we first met in middle school. I reconnected with her while we were both at Skidmore and had a sense that we had a future together. Now we’re happily raising a family here on campus.”
While it is difficult to find a natural balance between juggling multiple professional hats and being a present and engaged father to his young girls, Emma and Maren, Brian works to find a fair cadence every day.
“For all of its quirks, prep school life is an amazing setting to raise a family. Avon has provided us with an amazing foundation, and I like that our family can be a model for our boys to learn how a happy, healthy family functions at a time when they’re really starting to become aware of that sort of thing.”
Since 2004, Brian has witnessed the evolution of Avon Old Farms: physically, multiple buildings were added to campus; in the study body, talents and passion became more diverse; in the campus culture, community service grew as a hallmark of the Avon experience.
“Avon was my first job after finishing my undergraduate degree, and I have chosen to stay here because of the true community we have. The relationships among the faculty and the depth of the connection we are able to foster with students is incredible. Seeing students work hard and have breakthrough moments in their development is the driving force behind why I am an educator. I see them becoming leaders on campus and know that they will be successful in life.”
In the classroom, Brian is constantly reevaluating how to deliver content to his students in an engaging way.
“I challenge myself to always present multiple stories surrounding historical events, and ensure that our students know that the copy written in a text book is just one perspective. Especially as I have watched Avon become a more diverse campus I have taken on the purpose of sharing multiple narratives with these young men so that they can learn to think critically, research toughly, and work collaboratively.”
Aside from the big-picture mission of any student graduating from Avon Old Farms, Brian’s goal as an educator is to encourage his students to ask questions to seek the truth.
“I love when my students ask ‘Why?’ but maybe more importantly, I love when they ask ’Why not?’ My job is to build a rapport with that boy. If I can bridge the gap between us, and foster in him a desire to learn and to act industriously, my student will succeed and I will achieve my goal, too.”
Brian’s favorite memories reflected his multifaceted character–watching 200 students run down the hill at Northfield Mount Hermon to support the varsity soccer team during a playoff match; seeing the Parents of Avon come together during the 2007 Blue Blazer Ball to raise money for the faculty and students affected by the Brown House dorm fire; watching a lightbulb moment in the classroom when a student finally realizes how history can help him navigate the issues of today’s world.
“As a resident faculty member, I get to see our boys for all that they are, and all that they can be. I see them in the classroom, in the locker room, on the field, and in the dorm. And it’s only in that full context can we truly look out for their best interests and push them to their full potential. All in all, I am most proud when a student says to me, ‘You were a tough teacher, but you were always fair.’ That to me means I’m doing my job the right way.”
- In high school Brian was a big musical theater guy, and had the starring role of Nathan Detoroi in Guys & Dolls his senior year.
- He is a huge supporter of Everton Football Club in the English Premier League.
- Brian says he is a huge nerd for pop culture, and has far too much knowledge of Star Wars and comics books.