When Van Metcalf was hired in the spring of 2004, his primary responsibility was to oversee academic technology in the Dann Building. Teaching was secondary. He settled into the spacious ground floor wing where he patiently mentored faculty as they incorporated technology into their teaching and calmly assisted students with their computer issues.
Van had left his previous career as an engineer to come to Trinity-Pawling, at the suggestion of MacGregor Robinson, his good friend and fellow resident of Norfolk, Connecticut, who served as Director of Admission. “Trinity-Pawling had a similar vibe to Taft, where I had gone to school. I saw the relationships that faculty and students developed and knew this would be a good community. The corporate tech life had lost its allure, and I wanted to be able to make a difference in kids’ lives.”
And that’s exactly what he did, in his own quiet manner. Van discovered he loved the challenge of teaching computer science and sharing that passion with students. “I enjoyed taking kids under my wing and watching them grow into confident young men. It was a pleasure to work with guys like Jimmy Lee ’14, AJ Keller ’10, and Chris Schek ’07, some of whom went on to study computer science in college.”
Over the course of seventeen years, Van built a demanding computer science curriculum, which now includes three intensive courses, including Advanced Placement. “You never truly master teaching computer science because the field is constantly evolving,” Van notes. “I learn something new almost every day.”
Van will retire at the end of this school year. He and his wife, Shirley, will move to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a perfect location for these avid sailors. Next fall, the couple plans to ramble around the United States in a camper van, visiting state parks and exploring the country.
Final words of wisdom for students? “Keep programming!” And for his faculty colleagues? “Keep on pulling for our students. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a teacher here.”
We wish you all the best, Van, and we thank you for your years of dedicated service.
by Maria Buteux Reade