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Gordie Mackenzie

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • How does it feel to be a Winter Weekend legend?

    [laughs] That’s funny. I suppose it’s the competitiveness in me. Winter Weekend has only been around about 15 years and before that, where it was this whole dorm against dorm, there was the college bowl. And that was it. And then somehow this whole college bowl evolved into this big Winter Weekend that we have now. And when that happened, I was over at Case.

    All of a sudden between [the camarederie, the nascent of other traditions in Case] and Winter Weekend it just sort of snowballed. And then Case was red and I was in the middle of it and we just went on a string of winning every Winter Weekend.
  • Last year Burton won Winter Weekend. Was that the first time you were dethroned?

    I wasn’t dethroned. Vinny Sorriento was dethroned. He was the dorm head; he’s taking the bullet. Because under my leadership, that would never happen. [laughs].

    Because Case is seen as the evil empire, everyone else is going to be gunning to take us down. Now that Case has finally lost, was this a flash in the pan or is Burton going to continue? And of course, Prum now wants the secret to success.
  • How many years have you been at Millbrook and what roles do you play on campus?

    If I really go back in the records, I’ve probably been here about 26 or 27 years. I started coaching back in 1980. Which was just a year after I graduated from prep school. They were looking for a JV hockey coach.

    Editor's note: Mr. MacKenzie currently teaches Physics, coaches girls varsity soccer, is a dorm parent in Prum, and is in charge of the head waiters community service among other hats that he wears on campus.
  • What might your students be most surprised to learn about you?

    Maybe that I was once a student at Millbrook and didn’t graduate because of poor academics. I grew up and learned to be a good student and have come back here to now, sort of cherish this career I have. Where I hated school before, I love being in the classroom. I love the interchange between students and teacher. I love sharing stories of my interests and teaching them new things. To me, seeing the light go on in their eyes where, all of a sudden, the kid says, “Oh, I get it!”
  • What is your favorite memory of your time at Millbrook?

    Wow, my favorite memory? Boy, that’s really hard. I could look towards Winter Weekend... I got married in the chapel to Wendy who was working in the college counseling office; that’s how we met.

    Having Jane Goodall here twice and James Watson of Watson and Crick and the DNA.

    Another one could be winning the small school cup in girls soccer and then going to the New Englands. Or winning the school’s first division II championship.

    I’ll never forget when during one class, I forget what year that was, but they built that hot tub all out of ice. It was an ice sculpture and they must’ve spent about four days solid on it and they made into a real hot tub with the help of some of the maintenance guys putting a pump to circulate the water in and then they insulated it and they built a slide out of a window. And here it was, in January or February, and kids in the middle of the winter were running over in bathing suits and jumping in. That was just so cool.

    Maybe I haven’t had my favorite memory yet. It could be the graduation of my two daughters from Millbrook.
  • What made you return to Millbrook? What has kept you here?

    People would say, “Would you want to teach anywhere else?” If it’s not broken, why fix it kind of thing. Millbrook has everything that I love.

    I love the size of the school, the makeup of the student body (diversity, gender). While it's still small, it’s very competitive. It’s got a beautiful campus. The resources are enormous. And the location; I grew up in the area.
  • What is your favorite lesson that you teach?

    For me it gets back to the natural world. Incorporating the writings of Aldo Leopold from his book, A Sand County Almanac. And, using the words of Leopold and teaching my students about the natural world and conservation. How important it is to sometimes just leave things alone and appreciate its natural beauty, aesthetically. We have such a rich and great resource in the schools property, having over 800 acres. In fact, today I went marsh mucking. Taking the kids in there and when we’re done walking the marsh, we stopped and collected organisms to bring back into the classrooms.

    I go in every time; I’m right in front.

    When you come back as an alum and you drive down school road, and if you have a family or friends, the very first thing you’re going to say is, “You see that water? My teacher took me walking all through that.”
    • Millbrook has everything that I love: an ideal size, a diverse student body, competitive athletics, a beautiful campus, and incredible natural resources.

      Millbrook has everything that I love: an ideal size, a diverse student body, competitive athletics, a beautiful campus, and incredible natural resources.