Profiles of Courage

People are the lifeblood of The Governor’s Academy experience, and we are known for our family-like atmosphere that cultivates lifelong relationships. Dedicated faculty members mentor students in all areas of school life: academic, arts, athletics, service, and residential community. Students thrive under their guidance as they take risks, try new things with no certainty they will succeed, and solve problems for which there are no easy solutions. All of these actions take courage.

Alex Carpenter ’11

When The Governor’s Academy girls ice hockey coach Babe Ceglarski emailed Alex Carpenter to personally invite her to visit the campus, Carpenter was excited. Even as a seventh grader, she recognized the invitation as a life-changing opportunity.

“I visited and fell in love with the place,” Carpenter says. “The hockey program didn’t have that many players so it was a great way to get a lot of ice time while also getting an exceptional education.”

Carpenter was just 13 when she arrived on campus.

“Usually ninth graders don’t just come in, join a team, and makes waves instantly, but I think my classmates and I made a difference immediately,” she says. “That instilled courage in me because it shows that no matter what your age is, you can make an impact on anything.”

That impact included becoming New England Division 2 Champions for four years running, starting with Carpenter’s first season.

“I am definitely most proud of the first championship that we won my ninth grade year,” she says. “I don’t think we were really on the map at all as a hockey team and for us to be able to be that successful and win New England’s was a very special moment for us.”

After leaving The Governor’s Academy, Carpenter went on to play ice hockey for Boston College, Team USA, and the NWHL. She currently plays for the Shenzhen Kunlun Red Star Vanke Rays, a Canadian Women’s Hockey League team based out of Shenzhen, China.

Carpenter credits her experience at Govs with preparing her for college, and everything beyond. When considering the focus areas of the With True Courage campaign, she finds The Governor’s Fund to be the most meaningful, because of how it directly affected her own time in Byfield.

“Support from The Governor’s Fund helped me have the best and latest equipment on and off the ice,” Carpenter says. “Having team uniforms was just as important as having the latest technology in the classroom. It is something that I have contributed to before, and look forward to contributing to in the future.”

Marcus Soule

Marcus Soule did not originally set out to become a teacher. In fact, he graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and pursued a career from there.

“I worked in the industry for a couple years,” Soule says. “Just long enough to realize that the side job I had, volunteering in schools, I was enjoying more than what I was doing engineering.”

With his wife’s support, Soule started teaching. But his true moment of courage came when he accepted a position as a physics teacher at The Governor’s Academy. Having grown up attending public school, Soule knew that much of the boarding school experience would be unfamiliar. He also knew that the project-based learning approach he applied to teaching would be counter to the school’s long history of traditional education.

“I signed on to work at one of the oldest boarding schools in the nation and I don’t represent anything traditional about what education looks like,” Soule says. “I commend the school because clearly they’ve supported me! I’ve been pretty privileged, pretty blessed.”

Now in his fourth year at Govs, Soule’s role has expanded to include teaching engineering, coaching JV Baseball, and mentoring the school’s Robotics Team. He also lives on campus in a girls dorm with his wife and two sons, ages eight and five.

True to his passion for hands-on learning, when it comes to the With True Courage campaign, Soule is most excited about the building projects, including the Parker River Environmental Studies Center.

“The fact that we’re going to build a research center on the banks of the Parker River is mind blowing. The opportunities that we’re going to be able to offer students could be tremendous!” he says. “As a science department member, I would love it if our school was known as the independent school that paid attention to, and educated people on, the topic of environmental sustainability. That would be maybe the most flattering thing I could hear.”

Yu Kil-chun

When Yu Kil-chun arrived in Byfield in 1884, he was not only the first Korean student to enroll at The Governor’s Academy, but he was also the first citizen allowed to leave Korea to study in the West.

Yu originally traveled to the United States as a part of a delegation to observe both industry and government. Yu stayed stateside longer than some of the other delegates, eventually enrolling at The Governor’s Academy for the first and second terms of the 1884-1885 academic year.

At the time, students followed a standard six year course of study including Latin, Greek, Geography, Mathematics, French, Writing, and various sciences. While there is no record of Yu’s specific course of study, one of his letters reveals details about an exam in Physics. In another letter, Yu described the students at the Academy as “intelligent, conscientious, and independent.”

In January of 1885, Yu learned of an attempted coup in Korea by some of his progressive colleagues. He curtailed his studies and returned to Korea where he was immediately arrested. Yu spent the next seven years incarcerated for his connection to the leaders of the coup.

While jailed, he wrote a book entitled “Observations on Travels in the West,” based on his experiences in the United States and Europe. The text was considered an inspiration for reformist Korean thinkers and is still revered today.

Today, 14% of the Governor’s student body is made up of international students, with the majority coming from China. The second highest population of international students, however, is from Yu’s native Korea.

“He was really groundbreaking,” says Sharon Slater, Manager of the Archives. “To come and study in the United States was a big deal. Nobody from Korea had done this, and so it was really taking a chance. And then of course to return to bring what he had learned to a very dangerous situation. It fits in with our notion of taking risks and then using what you’ve learned, what you’ve gained to benefit the larger community.”