Mr. Schoeffel is a pretty cool guy. It is safe to say he has already been a good fit here at Friends as well as the school being a good place for him. This past week I caught up with the new head of the upper school, and he had some pretty good things to say.
Q: Let’s get to know you better. Who is Mr. Schoeffel?
A: I have lots of random facts actually. I was born in Toronto, Canada and I grew up playing hockey, and I followed the Maple Leafs. I was a cub scout which I really enjoyed and I also really enjoyed school. I went to a pretty traditional prep school called: Upper Canada College, which really shaped me a lot with many of the teachers I met. I connected with many of my teachers on a personal level. I later applied for the (NHL) draft when I was 16. I definitely wanted to get involved with schools after college. I thought about doing some financial stuff, but eventually I wound up coaching and that led me into teaching and I’ve been involved with schools ever since. I have a wife of over 20 years and 3 kids. We’ve moved around a bit but we really have enjoyed our time here so far.
Q: What prior knowledge/exposure did you have, if any, to Quakerism before coming to Friends?
A: Well, at the school I originally taught at, Shipley, one of my closest friends and mentors was a French teacher and a practicing Quaker. I had many friends that were Quakers that acted as mentors. Shipley has participated in the “Friends League” which is a sports league between various Friends schools. Ironically, Shipley was founded by women who were Quaker but decided not to make the school Quaker. I had been to some Quaker meetings in the past by my own choosing, and participated in some very powerful meetings even though I’m not a practicing Quaker. The ethics of values of Quaker schools have always been near to my heart.
Q: To this point, what has made Friends different than any other place you’ve been to before?
A: People are very intentional about asking what each other think and it doesn’t seem to be just a formality. It seems like people are genuinely interested in what others have to say. The whole idea of a collective input as well as equal student views appear to be big in this community, and although that’s not totally unique to me, it’s very evident here. I also think, and many kids may not notice but, a lot of you guys present very well. You do a great job of reaching out to others.
Q: We as students tend to set out goals for ourselves before each year. Did you do the same? If so, what goals did you have for yourself.
A: Getting to know everyone to the point that I know all of their first names as well as getting to know all of the faculty. I also just really want to live up to our mission in a way that is balanced but not overwhelming. Everyone always talks about the difficulties of high school but for me, high school was a time of exploration and taking risks. I know we all aspire to be an environment where the freedom and support is always there but I understand that it’s not always easy with outside pressures and so I would like for us to find a balanced solution where we can all work together. I know it’s an ambitious goal but I do want to try for it.
Q: Last question, if you could be any character ever whether it be literature, a T.V. show, or a movie, who are you?
A: Wow. I’m not a hobbit although I do like hobbits. I can’t say I would want to be Jesus Christ or Socrates because they both carry too much responsibility. I’d consider being Popeye or maybe Charlie Brown even though he doesn’t have a great ride. I don’t really want to be a superhero although my son would definitely want me to. I would really be interested to be someone that has a far different perspective than I do.