We wish to make one thing clear: The Tavern is a completely student-run publication. We are a thoughtpaper made by students, for students interested learning outside the boundaries of their own institutions. Yes, we are students: everyday we walk into our classrooms, sit around Harkness tables, and engage in exhilarating discussions with not only our peers, but also our teachers. Although students contribute to the heart of the discussions, teachers are still a crucial presence in any classroom. Whether they are sharing their wisdom or serving as mediators in heated debates, teachers foster our knowledge, passion, and humanity—there is always something we can learn from them.
Panel members conduct “Ten Minute T(ea)” interviews with teachers they deem to be especially beloved and respected by their respective institutions. The interview takes place over a cup of tea in the span of ten minutes. The interview is recorded and later transcribed by the interviewer. We hope that, by reading through these interviews, our readers will be able to gain special insight on money’s impact in boarding school, insight that can only be brewed from experience and age.
Ten Minute T(ea) with Mr. Rick DaSilva
Interview conducted by Anna Douglass, Tabor Academy
April 26, 2018
Q: How have you seen boarding schools personal societal and personal obligations change over the years, from your time at Tabor as a student and faculty member?
A: As a student, we had a lot more daily community obligations such as classroom clean up, trash disposal and lunch room clean up. Boarding students also had weekend dishwashing duties. The responsibility of cleaning up campus and buildings often fell on the student body as Plant Operations and custodial staff were limited. We were a smaller school, and arguable more divided then by class, but there was a greater sense of service to our campus and waterfront. Of course the differences between Generation X, which I am, and Generations Y (millennials) and Z are obvious, but when I was a student here expectations for personal responsibility were higher and the consequences greater.
Q: Do you think that the type of privilege that a boarding school student has changed over the years?
A: Yes and no. As the percentage of U.S. families that send their kids to schools like ours hasn’t really changed in decades, the presence of privilege has continued. I do believe however, that Tabor has been somewhat different in this regard as that the effect of privilege in the community and amongst the people in it is less than other institutions. I think that we have been fortunate that most students at Tabor don’t feel the need to obnoxiously flaunt wealth and privilege. That doesn’t it doesn’t exist but it means the student body maybe more cognoscente of the impact it would have. As for boarding schools in general, I’m sure it is an issue with the elite-ness and nature of private prep schools. With rising associated costs and increasing tuitions, often without the matching of aide and funding, the study body may always represent the privileged sliver of society.
Q: Where do you see boarding schools using its privilege to improve the greater community as with the many recent movements?
A: Although I’m a profound supporter of our global programs and opportunities, I truly believe that we do some of our best work here, locally. When Ms. Boucher initiated the newest version of Tabor’s community service program, especially the original days of service that took place in Marion and New Bedford, she not only launched over 500 volunteers into soap kitchens, pantries, backyards, streets and city parks, she also helped dispel the stereotypical reputation of Tabor. The work done these past years have reshaped the local community’s feelings about our school and what we stand for, and this work restarted relationships with the people around us, that had gone stale and stagnant for such a long time. The old “Tabor bubble” that we often regard as being a detriment to us insiders, had always been just as impermeable to outsiders as we rarely took the time to look up from our waterfront to see the opportunities to help those around us. We are now an institution that has made service to others a prime directive, and over time this have rekindled partnerships and inspired the South Coast.
Mr. DaSilva is a history teacher and the director of the International Center at Tabor. He graduated from Tabor in 1989 and came back to join as a faculty member in 1999 and has stayed here since. He loves to travel and has coordinated many of the summer service trips to eastern Asia. He offers a wide knowledge of Tabor not only as a student, but as a parent, faculty member, and international advocate.