By Sarah Leonard (Co-Head of Layout and Design, ‘23)
As many know, Monty (one of our Upper School English teachers) had been on paternity leave for the first month and a half of school. He and his wife, Chrissy, welcomed baby Arlo in August, and Monty has just rejoined us in person. Though excited to be back, he also laments the fact that he has to leave Arlo at home while teaching: “I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to spend as much time with him again, so it’s kind of crazy to think that this chapter is over—of course, though, there will be many other chapters in the future.” The balance of parenting and teaching is a complicated one, but it seems Monty is up to the challenge!
He also described the oddity of teaching Frankenstein to his seniors while beginning his role as a parent: “It’s not very reflective of my experience, which has been very joyous,” he noted, “There’s no such thing as a perfect way to parent, which is Victor’s problem, because though there are many people with strong opinions, every baby is different.” Monty’s teaching skills have been put to the test in novel ways since becoming a father. Although trying to figure out how to parent is challenging, it has also helped him to rediscover old picture books and other nostalgic items as Arlo progresses: “We’re just starting more high-contrast picture books, and he’s been able to pay attention and decipher the sound of our voices.” As for some of the classic children’s books, such as Goodnight Moon, Monty wonders what exactly it is that makes them so enthralling, especially to adults, as they are the ones choosing to buy them for children. “I kind of wonder what it is about the book, which has sold millions of copies, that has captivated adults so much. It’s almost like they’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on in that bedroom that feels like it’s in space.” As someone whose favorite job was at the Eric Carle Museum, he certainly knows how to look at and think about children’s books, as they are so much more than simple rhymes and illustrations meant to entertain children.
He also touches on the topic of climate change and its inevitable impacts on future generations, explaining, “Part of my journey to parenthood involves making peace with the uncertainty of climate change. One thing I’ve found profoundly helpful is my climate activism outside of school, like being a part of Equate (Earth Quaker Action Team) and making donations in Arlo’s honor after his birth.” For many of us, climate change and other threats to our future make it hard to look ahead, but the wisdom of Monty (and others who balance this fear with hope) can help to combat this.
Overall, he says, parenthood has been an interesting and challenging experience, especially alongside all that has happened over the past year and a half: “I’ve wanted to be a parent since I was a little kid, and it’s exciting to be doing something that I imagined, but that is also different than I imagined.” Monty also expresses his excitement about the births of Isaiah and Kodiak (Mr. Fogel’s and Ms. K’s new babies) and their possible future friendship. If you see Monty in the halls, make sure to welcome him back and to congratulate him!