Home Sweet Home

Construction is complete on four brand new faculty houses.
Teachers here at Thacher are part of a 24/7 community, one where they don’t just serve as teachers during the typical school day. They’re also advisors, mentors, next door neighbors, collaborators, coaches, dinner companions, and backpacking guides. Their families also become part of the Thacher community, attending Formal Dinners and taking part in many other aspects of community life. And they frequently invite students into their homes for study sessions, advisee dinners, and impromptu gatherings of prefectees, sports teams, clubs, and more. In short, faculty homes are essential points on the Thacher map.

Recently, housing has been tight as our faculty has grown and evolved, putting pressure on these hubs of community life. This fall, that has changed.

Thanks to a generous gift from the parents of the Class of 2016, as well as several other alumni and parents, four new homes have been built along Perimeter Road, just past the main parking lot. Each structure is 1,850 square feet in size and features three bedrooms, a fireplace, mud room, laundry room, and office. They’re also California Title 24 compliant, ensuring that they meet or exceed the most current efficiency standards in the state.

The following families moved in at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year:

  • Tim Sullivan (English teacher, lacrosse coach, Upper School Dorm Head) and Courtney, plus sons Cooper and Beckett
  • Kurt Meyer (math, programming, and robotics teacher; advisor to the EAC) and Alice Meyer (Interim Dean of Studies, psychology teacher)

  • Richard Winters (Director of the Horse Program) and Cheryl, who co-heads Christian Fellowship with Richard
  • Jeff Berndt (Director of Institutional Advancement) and Kristen (freshman girl advisor), plus Tyler '20, Eric '21, and Kendall.
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To get an inside look, we asked Tim Sullivan a few questions about living at Thacher and moving into his new home.

Tell us about where you were living before this.
For the past four years, Courtney and I lived in the larger faculty apartment in Upper School, which meant that we shared a wall with 50+ junior and senior boys. That might not sound like everybody's cup of tea, but we loved it. Yes, on occasion we had to deal with the typical noise of a dorm full of adolescent boys, but those moments were relatively few and far between. Much more frequent were the opportunities to get to know Thacher boys in a completely different way—a way that can come only from this sort of shared living.
 
When Courtney and I arrived in the fall of 2013, it was just the two of us. Both of our sons, Cooper (3 1/2) and Beckett (1), were born while we lived in the dorm, which meant that we were able to see some pretty special things up close, like the tenderness that big, tough eighteen-year-old boys can show to little guys like ours. Few things are better than that.

How's the new place so far?
Oh my gosh, we love our new place! As I mentioned, our family grew from two to four in the four years we lived in Upper School, so as much as we loved that apartment, we'd simply outgrown it.
 
Some of the things we love about our new place are pretty mundane, but it's the little things that count. For our last year in the Upper School apartment, the four of us shared a single bathroom. At the new place, with 2.5 bathrooms, it's nice for me and Courtney not to be stepping on rubber ducks and toy pirate ships while we try to take a shower. In the Upper School apartment, Beckett was in a cozy converted bathroom that we were using as a nursery; at our new place, he has a real bedroom, and there's an office that the boys can use as a playroom. Aside from things like that, the new house has a great view from the back deck, and this new neighborhood is pretty cool, too. I think it was Bill McMahon who said of the new places after seeing them for the first time that they look so natural in the space, they could've been here forever.

Can you speak to the experience of being a teacher who lives in the same campus community where he teaches?
It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't lived it. Certainly, I didn't understand the degree to which it changes things before I moved here. Yes, there are many formal settings in which I see my students—class, of course, but also meals, sports games, campus events, etc.—but the informal ones are often the more powerful. The unanticipated two-minute walk from the dorm to the Dining Hall; the conversation that happens between two spectators on the sideline of a Thacher game; the shared project of a meal made over a campfire. 
 
Equally important, I think, is the heightened degree to which they get to know me and my family. For a day school teacher, it's easier to have separate school and home lives. Here, it's all the same; you are who you are. You can't put on an act 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And because of that, because you know the kids are always watching—not just how and what you teach, but how you are with your own family, with your colleagues, with your friends—you're more conscious of who you are all the time. There's an incentive to be a better version of yourself as a faculty member.

What are some great memories you have of inviting students into your home?
Oh man, just one: I don't think I've ever seen my son Cooper laugh so hard as when we brought out cookies for dessert at an advisee dinner last year. The boys—and Reese Proctor, specifically—were so goofy with him that he was absolutely rolling on the floor. Coop forgot Reese's name and just called him "Cookie Monster" for the rest of the year and he was constantly asking me when the big boys were coming over for dinner again. He absolutely loved it.
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