M.S.Ed., Virginia Polytechnic Institution
About Mr. Hodgson
Dan Hodgson grew up in Fairfield, Conn., and graduated from Fairfield High School. From an early age, two things stole his heart: baseball and literature. Throughout his life he has pursued one of these passions, ultimately finding the perfect balance of the two at Avon Old Farms School.
“Both of my parents are college professors who love reading, so as a child I grew up around books. I became a lover of words and in high school had a really great mentor in my creative writing and AP English teacher. With all of this inspiration, I found my way to Kenyon College to study English.”
While there, Dan’s baseball career took off. While he had played since he could swing a bat, he says that playing college baseball was a deep and enriching experience.
“After graduation, I was offered a coaching job with Kenyon’s baseball team. While I had big dreams to go on a great Alaskan adventure to give me foder for my first novel, a tangible job coaching college baseball seemed to make a bit more sense,” he explains.
Dan loved coaching, and stuck with it for eight years with positions at Kenyon College, Georgia College and State University, and The George Washington University as a hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. But, eventually, Dan felt his love for literature pulling at the edges.
“Honestly, I was doing less coaching and more recruiting, which meant a lot of traveling,” he explains. “That was fun when I was young, but as I got older and wanted to settle down it wasn’t what I wanted. Wanting to teach how to write declarative sentences more than how to properly lay down sacrifice bunts, I jumped from the dugout to the English classroom, beginning my teaching career at Woodbridge Senior High School in Prince William County, VA.”
After four years at Woodbridge where he also had the privilege to be a fellow and teaching consultant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project, Dan leapt at the chance to move his family back to Connecticut.
“I was looking at both public and private schools, and had heard about Avon Old Farms through a couple of channels: I knew the head baseball coach Rob Dowling from my recruiting days, and I also had coached a few Avonians over the years. But, I knew nothing of the boarding school world until I set foot on Avon’s campus. It was really more like a small college than the images I had in my head of high schools.”
Another bonus was the triple threat teacher-mentor-coach model Avon’s embraces.
“As a baseball coach at the collegiate level, you have to be very single-minded if you want to be good,” Dan shares. “Then, when I worked in public schools down in Virginia, I took a turn to the opposite end of things by dedicating myself solely to teaching. I learned that in boarding school environments, I could do both and get to know my students better in the process.”
Dan shares that he was also blown away by the idea that his classes would no longer be in excess of 30 students; they would more likely be in the range of teaching 8-14 students per class.
“The relational learning model in this smaller setting is powerful. The boy I see at breakfast can be in my classroom at 10, at the lunch table at noon, on the field at 3, and in my study hall at 9,” he says. “And the best part of it all is watching my students begin to think on their own, share on their own, and eventually, get to the point where they don’t need me anymore. That’s when they’re ready for the next step in their lives.”
After some reflection, Dan says that he now realizes why he made the decision to forgo that Alaskan adventure: what he really wanted was to have a lasting impact. And teaching has given him that. He says that if a student comes back in 10 years and says thank you, he knows he’s done his job.
“Helping young men in as noble and grandiose an adventure as “the pursuit of truth” is a great way to spend the day,” he says. “Although some might consider such a mission as quixotic, I have no problem chasing windmills if those windmills represent integrity, wisdom, justice, and inclusion. And I appreciate teaching in a community that puts value in and action to those words. Everyday I live Avon’s mission by trying to start conversations between my students and great authors and big ideas, hoping that these conversations will help them in their pursuits of truth and will last well past their time in Old Farms.”
Dan lives in Simsbury with his wife Lisa, son Brendan, and daughter Sophia.
- When Dan Hodgson and Pierce Brennan began teaching an intersession class on bread making in 2015, they saved some of the bread starter for the following years and gave a bit of it to each project and each student. Dan still uses that starter when making bread today.
- Dan has swum at Forty Foot at the tip of Dublin Bay in the cold January sea.
- His short stories have been published in several literary magazines.