Somerset Waters

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. Where did you attend college?

    University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, BS in finance; University of Cambridge, BA Honors, MA in Economics.
  • Q. What was your experience in the corporate world?

    I spent 26 years working in the treasury departments of Fortune 500 multinational corporations, eventually being elected vice president and treasurer of Duracell, and then Harnischfeger Industries, after Gillette bought Duracell. I became an expert in managing foreign exchange rate and interest rate risks. By marrying this expertise with a knowledge of international taxation, I helped develop strategies for dramatically reducing expenses and financial leverage. Devising these strategies and then selling the ideas to management was very satisfying.
  • Q. What prompted the change to a career in education?

    After graduating from the Lawrenceville School, I won an English Speaking Union scholarship to Gordonstoun School in Scotland. One of my teachers there was Ian Lawson, whom I admired greatly. I promised myself that one day I would do what he did – teach at a boarding school. When I was about 52, the time was right. I planned to teach economics, but quickly realized there was little demand for economics teachers.


    While I was assistant treasurer at Black & Decker, I became fascinated with the Hubble Space Telescope. This led to my studying astrophysics and cosmology. When it came time to choose a subject to teach, other than economics, it was an easy decision to teach physics and astronomy. After earning 27 credits in physics and astronomy at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, I was ready for this new career.

    I interviewed at Millbrook, and was extremely impressed with its emphasis on community service. I had experience with the Colorado Outward Bound School and Gordonstoun School, both of which were founded by Kurt Hahn. They also emphasized service. When the teaching offer was made, it was an easy decision. Now 10 years later, I consider this one of my best decisions, second to the decision to propose to my wife Wieska. I love teaching at Millbrook.

     

  • Q. What makes Millbrook, Millbrook for you?

    The sense of “community.” Everyone is supportive of each other, and there is a strong, positive morale. Much of this can be attributed to Drew Casertano, one of the best CEOs with whom I’ve worked. I think the community service program enables a sense of mutual responsibility in the students, and this helps to create this feeling of community.

  • Q. Do you ever bring the corporate world into your classroom?

    I learned in the corporate world that some skills are extremely important, such as public speaking and learning to lead effectively in small groups. In my classes, we work on these skills. Also, I always begin class with Q&A, five minutes of questions by the students on any subject relevant to the course. I see this as a way to nurture their curiosity and to make the course relevant for them. On occasion, one of them asks an economics or finance question, a refreshing diversion.
  • Q. What would your students be most surprised to find out about you?

    I was four one-hundredths of a second away from rowing in the Olympic Games, this being the margin of my second place finish in the Olympic Trials. This was my biggest disappointment.

    I was married thirty-eight years ago to my wife Wieska in Poznan, Poland. Our daughter now lives in Poznan and teaches at Wieska’s university there. During the summer between my two years at Cambridge, I drove solo from Cambridge to Lahore, Pakistan, and back, a total of 12 thousand miles. That was an experience!

     

  • Q. How many years have you been at Millbrook, and what classes have you taught?

    I have been at Millbrook for 10 years; I teach general physics, advanced physics, and astronomy.
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