Welcoming Mr. Chase Back to the Circle


Groton’s previous interim headmaster Peter Camp, once described Gordon Chase, saying “He looks at the world through Chase coloured glasses, in which there is but one pair.” Classics teacher Andy Reyes added that Mr. Chase “is a truly colorful person. Back in the 70s when the rules were not flexible, his ideas were interesting and far more vibrant than the social atmosphere that was present at that time.” Groton welcomes Mr. Chase back to the Circle this fall teaching temporarily for art teacher Melissa De Jesus-Akuete.

Mr. Chase began teaching at Groton School in 1971. He was in his twenties, and it had only been a year since he had graduated from Yale. He recalled these first years as an “exciting time.” Shortly after his arrival, Groton became co-educational institution in 1975. Boarding schools also started to recognize the growing importance of formal art education. At Groton, this importance manifested in the building of the first Dillon Art Center (in the location that we use today as the Student Centre). During his 7 years at Groton, Chase was the Director of Student Activities and coached boys varsity soccer and boys varsity lacrosse. One of his biggest challenges was planning the student activities. “How do you keep 400 students out in the middle of the woods happy on a Saturday night?” In the end, Mr. Chase came up with all kinds of creative ideas and Grotonians enjoyed chariot races, professional wrestling nights, miniature golf, casino nights, and costume dances, just to name a few.

After Groton, he taught at Milton Academy for over 25 years, where he was Chairman of the Visual Arts. Retired in 2014, Mr. Chase now resides in Shirley. As he lives so nearby, this isn’t the first time that he has returned to substitute for the art department. Two years ago, he substituted for Ms. Van Gelder. Associate Head of School Andy Anderson was the one who asked him to return once more this fall. He currently teaches two sections of third form Visual Studies as well as Drawing Workshop and Ceramics. He will be at Groton at least until Thanksgiving Break.

Mr. Chase said of his experience on the Circle, “When I became a teacher at Groton School, I got the impression, and my impression then is the same as it is now, that Groton really wants its students not to be just winners and losers, but to become good people.” He added that he is impressed by the Chapel Talks: “This is a wonderful thing that Groton does. This allows students, teachers, and others to share stories of their lives with the entire school. That really makes a big difference to the character and personality of the school.” Mr. Chase also described his hopes that the school is taking advantage of its diversity and having difficult discussions about real world events and movements: “Does the level of civil discourse in our country come into conversation here? I hope so.”

Monika Andersson, head of the Visual Arts Department, said she appreciates Mr. Chase’s outlook on art: “Art should be about who you are, what you believe in, and what you hope others might appreciate about the world as you see it.” Some of his amazing sculptures that speak to the environment and human thought were on display in 2016 at the de Menil Gallery under the exhibition “The Insanity of Violence.” Monika appreciates that most of Mr. Chase’s work and assignments are focused on social and environmental issues. “Even when he’s retired, he keeps working at it. It’s great to be able to have a substitute who is so passionate about his subject and is good with his students.”