Scott MacLeod ‘77

Blame the Teachers

So often, our alumni sing the praises of the teachers they had at the Academy – acknowledging them for not only teaching academics, but for teaching about life. For Scott MacLeod ’77, the spirit of those teachers who inspired him more than three decades ago live on in his own classroom 3,000 miles away from Sewickley.

After a successful bout with cancer over ten years ago, Scott left the advertising business to pursue something more important. He spent several years working in the non-profit sector and even spent a few with Breakthrough Collaborative, the national organization that supports Summerbridge Pittsburgh.

With vivid thoughts about his teachers at the Academy, Scott followed his childhood dream in becoming a high school English teacher at a public high school in a suburb of San Francisco. “I could see their faces, hear their voices, even after more than 30 years,” Scott said of his teachers at SA.

The memory of Mr. Simmons, always reserved and punctual, emerging from a closet in full costume on Bizarre and Extreme Day, will never fade for Scott. However, his biggest inspiration as an English teacher is Mrs. Polinko. Her incorporation of music into a unit on Alice in Wonderland encouraged Scott to use the same technique as a musician himself. He classifies Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse as Mrs. Polinko’s greatest gift.

His favorite book in high school, Scott re-discovered Hesse’s novel stuck in the back of a shelf in the English department’s book room. He taught the book that year, allowing several of his students to claim it as their own favorite. “Of course, there are more inspirations,” Scott said. “I blame them – and thank them all.”

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Sewickley Academy is a nationally recognized Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in Pre-K through Grade 12 on a single campus.