Posted by: Staff | 10.22.2007

Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Lieser


This is the first installment of the “Faculty Spotlight” column. The main idea behind this column is to highlight teachers and other faculty members whom you may not know too much about, beginning with a lot of the new faculty. Along with some insight into their lives, you might get some fun facts to tease your teachers about, too.

Michael Lieser is a new upper school English teacher at Beaver, and the advisor for this newspaper. Because of this, he was a prime target for our first interview. I sat down to talk with Mr. Lieser on the blue couch of the English Office, and here’s what I learned:

Mr. Lieser just moved to Boston from the San Francisco Bay area in California. He had lived there for five years, but now he has relocated to Jamaica Plain. As he says, “It was a lot of fun to be out there, but I feel like New England is more home than anywhere else.” He particularly enjoys the atmosphere in JP; “It’s a lot friendlier and more diverse than I thought Boston would be.”

As a child, he moved around a lot, living in the south, the Midwest, and then attending high school and college in Maine. “When people ask me where home is, that’s a pretty complicated question,” says Mr. Lieser. In Maine, he went to John Bapst Memorial High School and Bowdoin College. In college, Mr. Lieser was acquainted with Beaver History teacher Ms. Melvoin, who played Rugby there.

When I asked him how he would describe his former high-school self, he depicted himself as a good, responsible student, but one who suffered from “a big head” late in his senior year. He says, “When I look back on it now, it was sort of the big fish in a small pond syndrome. But then, when I got to college, and I was around a lot of people who were much smarter than I was… I was kind of cut back down to size.”

(At left: Mr. Lieser’s high school photo.)

In high school, he didn’t enjoy calculus; however, his goal was to become a doctor. In fact, he missed so many calculus classes his senior year that his teacher threatened to keep him from graduating. He made it through a lot of college pre-med requirements, but then realized that what he really enjoyed were “the humanities and English.”

One of Mr. Lieser’s hobbies is skiing. Currently, he only skis recreationally, but in high school he did Sugarloaf and the New England race circuit, and then skied in college. He says, “It’s always something I’ve been passionate about… there’s been some talk about organizing some ski trips this year at Beaver. We’ll see if we can put together some student groups and head up on a weekend, maybe get some good snow.”

He has just finished his Master’s Degree at Middlebury College’s Breadloaf School of English. He describes this program as “A Master’s program that’s kind of like a summer camp for English teachers.” For his thesis, one major source that he analyzed was the movie “The Big Lebowski.” He says, “People often think, ‘oh, that’s just a silly stoner movie’ but what they don’t recognize is all the intricacies that it has.”

He has no pets, and he isn’t married. However, his parents, who live in Maine, have a yellow lab. Mr. Lieser has no tattoos (or so he claims). The fun fact that he shares with his students on the first day of class is that he really likes York Peppermint Patties, and his favorite part is the sound that they make when they are broken open. He says the sound is “soft and subtle.” He just turned 29 this past September, but don’t wish him a happy birthday next year; he wants that milestone to slip by unnoticed.



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