After teaching at Belmont Hill for a staggering 41 years, Mr. Greer, a treasured member of the English department, is retiring. Growing up nearby in Dedham, Massachusetts, Mr. Greer attended high school at Roxbury Latin. After attending the University of Virginia, where he majored in English and pitched for the baseball team, Mr. Greer served six-months active duty as a medic. Mr. Greer stepped onto Belmont Hill’s campus during the late 1970s in hopes of finding an available teaching position. He was leaving behind his “ideal beginning” at Woodstock Academy, a small co-educational private school in Woodstock, Connecticut, where he taught five classes and coached Varsity basketball and JV baseball. While teaching at Woodstock, he married his wife, Dee, and together, they decided they wanted to move back closer to their hometown. Although there were no positions initially available, Mr. Greer left a resumé after a successful interview, and two weeks before the first day of classes in 1978, he received a call and was offered a job teaching English.
Throughout his 41 year-long career, Mr. Greer has been involved in every area of Belmont Hill. He has enthusiastically taught English 4, American Literature, and The Hero In Literature to upper schoolers, and has coached football, basketball, and baseball at various levels. On the academic side of campus, Mr. Greer has cherished classroom autonomy. He appreciates the opportunity to implement the “Profile assignment” in English 4, and the freedom to design and discuss new courses. He recalls, “Periodically parents have questioned our reading lists, but I think our defense was always a solid one: We picked books which our students would enjoy to read and write about.” Over the years, Mr. Greer has succeeded in making the content of his courses relatable and engaging to all his students. He appreciates when students genuinely care about the material and actively participate in Belmont Hill’s hallmark Harkness Table discussions. In recognition of his service and leadership, Mr. Greer was awarded the Burns Chair in the Humanities. He claims that this “is the single greatest honor I can cite. I was totally surprised and honored to receive the endowed chair.”
On the athletic side of campus, Mr. Greer easily recalls various memorable moments. He fondly recalls the memories of coaching 8th-grade football with Mr. Brodie and Mr. Martin for seven consecutive undefeated seasons. While describing the streak, he laughs, “That ain’t bad.” His years of coaching Varsity baseball during the mid to late-90s yield two especially cherished memories: working with former Red Sox catcher, Rich Gedman (now the hitting coach for the Pawtucket Red Sox) and winning the ISL Championship in 1997. That season, Belmont Hill held first place going into the final game of the season against rival BB&N, who happened to be one game behind in second place. “Mr. Goodband’s oldest son, Cliffy, pitched that game. He threw a no-hitter, and we won 10-0 to win the league.” Mr. Greer also truly enjoyed this past winter season coaching 7th-grade basketball with Mr. Martellini. He adds, “Before this year, I would’ve had a hard time picking out my favorite basketball season. But I had more fun coaching the 7th-grade team this year with Mr. Martellini than I’ve had in a long time.”
When asked ‘What will you miss most about Belmont Hill?’, Mr. Greer immediately responded, “The community.” He added that he will miss the “unique combination of the people I teach with and the students I teach.” He believes that English is one of the most demanding subjects to teach and “if it weren’t for grading 3-4 page essays, I might be able to stick around a little longer.” Upon learning of Mr. Greer’s retirement plans last spring, Mr. Armstrong complimented his colleague’s teaching prowess, with an apt baseball metaphor: “the good news is, you haven’t lost your fastball.” Although he admits to becoming a softer grader over the years, Mr. Greer feels this compliment is generally accurate, and he appreciates the opportunity to retire from Belmont Hill on his own terms.
While Mr. Greer has not yet entirely determined what he will be doing in retirement, he certainly knows that he and his wife will be spending more time with their children and grandchildren. “My oldest [grandchild] is 11, and they’re all getting more involved in sports and other activities, so we just want to be able to support them.” Additionally, Mr. Greer looks forward to some travel. This upcoming autumn will be the first fall he has ever had off in his adult life. Despite being offered four sabbaticals, he took time off just once in the spring. He hopes to take many day trips around New England during the scenic fall. That said, he leaves open the option of tutoring or substituting at Belmont Hill or another school. Alas, he will not continue coaching on the Hill in retirement due to bad traffic during the late-afternoon commute home. Nevertheless, he has not ruled out the idea of returning to coaching in some form. A former student of his is the head of school at Catholic Memorial, a private school in West Roxbury, so coaching at a school closer to home remains a possibility. Additionally, Mr. Greer is exploring the opportunity of receiving a board certification to referee middle school basketball games at various other local schools.
Mr. Greer will be greatly missed by everyone in the Belmont Hill community. Students will miss the daily competition to answer extra credit questions posted on the whiteboard in his classroom, and athletes will miss his presence on the field or on the court. Mr. Greer has truly contributed to every aspect of the Belmont Hill community; we wish him the very best as he begins his retirement.