Greg Robinson DS '98
Where do you live and what do you do?
I live in Alexandria, Virginia with my wife Michelle, and I’m on the music faculty at George Mason University. My research focuses primarily on traditional music in Chile and Argentina, and I teach classes on musics of the world, Latin American music, Western classical music, and music research methods.
With which friends from your Doane Stuart days do you still connect?
KJ Neilson is definitely the one with whom I’ve kept the most contact. We recently attended one another’s weddings, we get together any time we’re both in Albany, and we talk on the phone from time to time.
What are the first words that come into your mind when I ask you to describe your Doane Stuart experience?
I think free-range is the best way to describe it. DS was a place that really encouraged students to pursue their academic and artistic interests, and there was this amazing mix of support and freedom for them to do so.
Faculty were amazing mentors, always invested in students and willing to spend time talking about both coursework and extracurricular projects, and there was a really strong sense of community that fostered experimentation. Sometimes this resulted in amazing things, like when KJ organized coffeehouse-style open mic events that drew a lot of participation from across the upper school, and sometimes we may have wandered a little too close to our limits, like when we got together with a few people from our class, snuck a paint scaffolding outside piece-by-piece, put it back together, and then rode it down the big hill.
What is one of the funniest stories from your time at DS?
There was a time in ninth grade when KJ and I were sitting in Dr. Ryan’s class, and we realized that some of the desktops lifted right off of the chairs to which they were attached. Somehow we got the inspired idea to start taking them with us when we left the room and stashing them in a locker. Once all the loose ones were gone, we got some screwdrivers to continue with our little project. Eventually, the faculty noticed that the desktops were going missing, and found the (by then several) lockers full of them. At that point, I think KJ admitted that it was we who had taken them, and we ended up having to clean all the desks in the upper school.
What stands out from your Doane Stuart experience as influential on the life you lead today?
As somebody who wound up in education, I always strive toward the example set by the DS faculty. Both high school and college are times when students are in the process of inventing the adult versions of themselves, and the Doane Stuart faculty, to a person, were deeply insightful, extremely generous with their time, and always willing to listen to students, whether it was Mr. McDowell’s walking me through some Wallace Stevens poems I had found in our anthology and really liked, or Mr. Dr. Ryan’s walking KJ and me through how to pour a beer on our trip to Central Europe. It’s also amazing how many specific lessons from high school carry over to my teaching today. I still walk my students through the forms of the verb, “to be,” and try to root out passive-voice constructions in my own writing.