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Pamela Sargent Ryley

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Roger Ryley
Lance Ryley, David Coxe, Jen Welsh


Home Address

260 Noank Road
Mystic, CT 06355

Hometown when at Northfield/Mount Hermon:

Broad Brook, CT

Phone Number


Cell Phone Number


Email Address


Birthday / Birthplace

January 21, 1946; Hartford, CT

Occupation(s) / Years

Currently: Language Arts teacher for 18 years; formerly: Membership Coordinator at Mystic Aquarium, 3 years; Field Executive for Connecticut Trails Council of Girl Scouts, 2 years; Director of Volunteer Services at United Community and Family Services and Director, Retired Senior Volunteer Services, 6 years.

Northfield / Mount Hermon Memories:

I look back on my years at Northfield as among the happiest of a mostly happy life. I was a year younger than most of my classmates, so adjusting to being away from home was difficult that first year at Hillside. With the support and guidance of the faculty and staff, the friendship of my mates, the enriched academic and social life of the school, I grew to be more self-reliant and self-confident than is my nature. Polishing piles of silver with Mrs. Playful on Saturday mornings, watching Mrs. Dorchester valiantly attack an invading bat with a hatchet, burning my hands on the fire rope, falling exhausted into bed after Mountain Day, receiving inspiration from William Sloane Coffin, having dinner at Hillside with Ferrante and Teicher, admiring Diane Zaremba's hand-knit sweaters, wishing I had Linda Olson's thick, dark hair and Karen Eldred's exquisite voice, wondering with Lucy Brown if the world was coming to an end during the Cuban Missile Crisis, seeing pictures of the Holocaust for the first time, hearing the clap of thunder at Christmas Vespers, taking in Miss Palmer's cautionary advice that being wrong occasionally was far better than vegetating like a carrot - these and so many more happenings, big and small, are woven into my fabric. Everything I learned about my adult self began at Northfield, and I am so grateful for those years. Sometimes when I am up that way, I drive around the campus to re-live my memories and climb up to Round Top to re-capture the power of the beauty of the place. I recall having tea with Miss Betsey Moody - I still have the small Gospel of John she gave each of us - and feeling I had stepped back in time into a world where hard work and trying to do the right thing mattered. This is the light I took with me from Northfield, one I've tried to shine on my children, my friends, and my students.

Life since Northfield/Mount Hermon

My life since Northfield, though marked by neither fame nor fortune, has been remarkably rich and and satisfying. My husband Roger is both entertaining and annoyingly carefree since his retirement from teaching history. My children are decorative and functional, hopefully salting away cash to fund my retirement. I live with Dory, the sweetest dog on the planet. I'm fighting ignorance and apathy daily by teaching language arts to sixth graders [do you know how hilarious sixth graders are?] at Cutler Middle School in Mystic, CT, mostly to support our life-long boating habit. Over the years we've sailed extensively in New England waters but had a fine adventure bringing our current boat, DUET, north from Norfolk, Virginia, a few years ago. We have also done a fair amount of the other kind of traveling, mostly in England and Wales. One lovely trip was a European tour with Mystic River Chorale, our beloved community vocal ensemble. Roger and I are founding members, now rehearsing for its 28th season. We treasure time spent with dear friends, including Sandy [Freund] and Bob Borden, and we are thankful for our many blessings including decent health and darling grandchildren.

Inspirational/transformative influence on your life

I guess the guiding principle in my life has been to try to make the world better than it wants to be, and the same goes for me. As I've struggled against my inherent laziness and inertia, I've told myself, my students and my children that all we need to do to succeed is the work. I learned that at Northfield. A corollary has been, for me, to be careful about how I define and measure success so that the value of my achievements, though small by the world's standards, still add up to a meaningful life. Miss Palmer, my inspiration, gave us the same final exam at the end of our first semester with her and at the end of our last one. She asked us to examine the characters in the literature we had read by attempting to answer the big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What does my life count for? Who will be touched by what I do or don't do? I've carried these questions with me, and while I have no answers, the inquiry itself moves me forward.

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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 1:26 AM
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 1:26 AM
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 1:26 AM