New Teacher Spotlight: Dr. Baker

New Teacher Spotlight: Dr. Baker

       Dr. Baker taught as a substitute teacher last school year – 2021 to 2022 – at Seabury Hall. This year, he has become the full-time teacher of the Upper School Chemistry and Physics classes. His teaching ethics, emphasis on learning, and interesting life stories leave a strong impression on every student that he teaches. He has very quickly become one of the most respected and beloved teachers among students. To learn more about Dr. Baker, I scheduled an interview to ask him some questions:


Q: What did your childhood look like?

A: My mother pushed me very hard in academics. She expected me to reach great heights and become a nuclear physicist. My father taught me through example to be a good husband, father, grandfather, and especially how to be a gentleman. I was taught to place women at the apex of respect. That’s why whenever a lady steps into the room – whenever a lady comes to a table or leaves one – I always stand up and show her the respect she deserves. My father taught me this, my mother demanded it. 

You get respect by showing respect.


Q: What other jobs did you do in the past?

A: After college, I joined the Marines, and I’m still technically a Marine. There is no such thing as an Ex-Marine. After leaving the job, you are still considered one[: a Marine]. After fighting in the Vietnam War, after the SALT Treaty, I became a nuclear physicist for the United States disarming nuclear weapons. I did this job for nearly 20 years. After that, I taught for 9 years at colleges and schools. It was then that I broke my back and had to take a break from teaching. I’ve never had a real job. I don’t consider teaching a job because once you love doing something, it no longer becomes a chore.


Q: What led you to teach in your current position at Seabury Hall?

A: After my recovery, I was a substitute teacher at Seabury [Hall] a few years ago. My wife knew the previous head of school, and that’s how I became a substitute. During this time, I was teaching science at Maui High, but I got tired of that because I wanted to teach physics. I was back at Seabury [Hall] as a substitute teacher a lot last year and Mrs. Madden gave me the position before the [2022 – 2023]  school year started.


Q: What is your greatest motivation?

A: When it comes to teaching, I strive to push students to their ultimate limit. I want all of my students to reach their full potential. Everybody is able to achieve their potential and purpose. When it comes to the rest of life, my biggest motivation is my wife and kids.


Q: What is your biggest accomplishment?

A: These are the same as the four most important dates of my life. Firstly, the day I came home from Vietnam alive. Secondly, the day I received my PHDs. My third event is in two parts:  [1)] my marriage to my wife and [2)] the birth of my children and grandchildren. And lastly, the day Mrs. Madden interviewed me and offered me my job. I would also say scattered in there is me adopting my rottweilers [Smiling]. They don’t understand how big they are, so whenever I call them they jump up and I have 250 pounds of rottweiler right on top of me. I’m also very proud of my brain and that I became a nuclear physicist and teacher. I’m proud of being a good husband, father, grandfather, and gentleman. I always said that if I could be good at one, I could become better at the other, but I won’t say which one affected the other [Laughing].


Q: Who is your biggest role model?

A: You know, as a child, of course it was my mother and father. They raised me and made me what I am, and pushed me to become educated. I truly do respect their impact on myself. However, nowadays, I would have to say that it’s my wife and children. While my parents made me who I was before, it is my wife and children that make me what I am today. 


Q: If you could make any change to the school or curriculum, what would it be?

A: If I could, I would make everybody take physics [Laughing]. It’s an important class. And [I would] also add a nuclear physics course.


Q: What hobbies and interests do you pursue outside of school?

A: Well that’s hard to answer. I consider school to be my hobby. I’d rather do this than any other hobby or anything, except being with my wife and family. I used to ride my Harley around and do stand up paddling, but I’m much older now and my back limits things.


Q: Any last thoughts or interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?

A: Keep in mind that I’m far from perfect. For one, I can’t dance, and I have no rhythm. I’m also not athletic in any way, but I am extremely gifted. I’m very lucky to have a great mind. I have no shame in saying it. If you talk to any of my friends, my wife, or my children, they will all tell you the same thing: “He has no common sense.” I can’t use power tools or a ladder because by the time I get up there, I’ve forgotten what I’m doing. One time, I dressed for school and was almost out the door until my wife caught me and pointed out that I was still in pajama pants. It’s just one of those things. Everybody has flaws. A fun fact is that I never went to high school. I was pushed by my parents to learn, so by the time I was in middle school I was learning material from high school. After that, I went straight to college at a very young age. I went to California Technology Institute and transferred to the University of San Diego.


Q: Do you have any interesting stories you would like to tell?

A: Oh, I have plenty of stories I could tell about my time as a nuclear physicist, but I can’t really talk about them because of the government. Actually, I do have one that’s very hard to believe. One time, when I was paddling at Thousand Peaks, it was the end of whale season in April, and I was a ways out. I wasn’t concerned with whales because it was still pretty shallow, but one popped up ten feet right in front of me. I froze and started to paddle away, but then another one went up next to him, and another. They had me circled with their big eyes looking at me. Everytime I tried to paddle away they would block me. Eventually, one came out from under me and launched me a few feet in the air onto the whale’s back. It’s like they were playing ping pong with me or something. It dove back down with me on its back, and I knew I had my board still on me because I felt it on my leg. They closely followed me all the way back to shore. There were plenty of people watching me from shore. 

By the time I got back, I collapsed on the beach and people came over to see if I was okay. I was so scared that I had to have people call my wife and kids for me because nobody would ever believe it otherwise. A couple visiting called my wife and a local boy called my kids for me. I was so shaken that it was a year before I went paddling again. 

Later, I talked to a captain at the Pacific Whale Foundation, and he reassured me that they didn’t want to hurt me and that they were only playing. They might have, and they did follow me to shore to make sure I was alright, but the experience was still terrifying. This was just one of those stories that you wouldn’t believe [Chuckling]. Many people say “What an amazing thing!” but it wasn’t amazing at all! And it was worse because I was alone. I was scared in Vietnam, all people were, but there I had control. It was like playing with two rottweilers. You can get hurt!