Faculty Feature: Mr. Paul Sanborn
Over a two day span, I sat in on Mr. Paul Sanborn’s Cold War Seminar. The students, sprawled over the room, were watching a movie called “Mississippi Burning”. Mississippi Burning is ‘loosely based’ on the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights activists attempting to organize a voter registry for African Americans. During the movie, wolf 6 (a “related” call sign for Mr. Sanborn in the Naval intel community) would pause the film and go into more depth about the events and culture shown in the film. He knows history like the back of his hand. He has a way of sparking interest with the students and inspires them to think deeply about historical events. Sitting in on one of these classes is so interesting because you can see how educated and devoted he is to the subject. However, I recognized that this goes much deeper than just being in on a “Sanborn Class”. Wolf 6 might be one of the most interesting people that I have ever personally met with such a unique background and life story. Paul is a veteran Marine and Civilian Contract Intelligence Analyst with the Department Of Defense. He spent thirty years in a variety of public school districts as a teacher, administrator, and XC/Track and Field coach. He has now been (back) at Devon Prep for twenty years.
Paul currently teaches two classes at Devon Prep and is a member of the Tredyffrin Trail Watch. He is an avid reader and professes to own over 3000 books. Paul and his wife Terry have been married for 51 years, celebrating two sons and four grandchildren. Paul absolutely loves dogs. Their two golden retrievers, Ruby Tuesday and Teddy Spaghetti, allow Paul and Terry to reside as roommates in their beautiful Tredyffrin Township home. If you are a student at Devon Prep, I highly recommend taking a Sanborn class.
I sat down with Mr. Sanborn after one of his classes to ask some questions, the interview is below!
DD: In your bio, it mentions you are a Veteran Marine (Semper Fi!), how was the transition from Marine to Educator?
W6: There was less of a problem for me than for other service members. My principle specialty was in intelligence. That required mastery and performance of a number of skills involved with raw data analysis and development, effective communication techniques and advising our clients who must make difficult decisions on complex situations. I have always been an educator in spirit. In retrospect, I think I have done my best work over my total career in coaching athletics (Cross Country and Track & Field) and teaching teachers (Freedoms Foundation).
DD: You were working here at Devon during 9/11. With your background of the Marines and more specifically the Department of Defense, how did that affect you?
W6: For me personally, it was learning that our Naval Reserve Intel Plot on E ring looking out on the heliport took a direct hit by the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. I was stationed in that billet during the 1970s. Many of our officers and staff were killed and wounded there that day. I served with some of them in the past
DD: You have FIVE degrees, not including your most important- Devon Preparatory School diploma, how did you do it? What is your philosophy on the importance of furthering your education?
W6: I take a Renaissance man’s view of education. Be curious always, keep learning always and, try to become conversant in a matter related to many fields. My graduate and undergraduate degrees do have unity in that everything revolved, one way or the other, around Russia except the degree in Educational Leadership.
DD: You have seen Devon Prep change so much over the years. What do you like about the changes, and what do you see for the future of DP?
W6: The dress code is more relaxed. The students no longer have to concentrate on the physical sciences to the degree that we did when I studied here. There are more choices in Theology, Social Sciences and even in the areas of math and science. Computer education is being emphasized more than in the past when we used clay tablets for taking notes. Guidance has expanded greatly and provides more support for the students in many ways not always seen as necessary in the past. Athletics have become a regular feature of our education of the total person at Devon much more than when I attended Devon. Art and music have had a rebirth also. I believe Devon to be a better place than when I arrived here in 1999.