Ruby Bleeds Gould Blue

June 28, 2018

At the end of June, Head of School Matt Ruby is departing Gould for new adventures. Matt and his wife Kathy will be greatly missed by the Gould community, and there will be a tremendous void to fill. Matt has had a remarkable impact on the school, and the programs that he helped create and inspire will continue to thrive and grow for years to come.

The Capacity to Persevere

With blended learning, Matt moved Gould’s curriculum online. Utilizing Canvas better serves students who regularly travel for athletics, internships, or other opportunities. His philosophy is that a student shouldn’t have to give up something academically when their passion takes them outside of the classroom. That’s where some of the best learning happens. He flipped the classroom and added faculty office hours to free up class time for students and teachers to focus on individual problems in a one-on-one setting.

Early in his tenure, Matt identified an opportunity for growth within the Science and Math departments to establish Gould as an educational leader in STEM. Creating the Marlon Family IDEAS Center transformed the lower level of Hanscom Hall into a modern, flexible maker space that is utilized by full classes, group work, individual passion projects, and a design thinking-based curriculum, modeled after the Stanford The work of one particular student, Demetri Maxim, inspired the development of the Gould Science Research Program and established a strong tradition of participating in state-level and international science fairs.

Demetri Maxim ’16 in the lab with the Biosafety Cabinet he helped raise funds to purchase.

“Matt recognized the potential of our first research student, worked with the Board of Trustees to fund the program, and served as a source of inspiration and enthusiasm for the project.

This year, we took 17 projects to science fairs, and our program continues to grow, with students studying in research labs around the world. Matt’s vision for the Gould Science Research Program has helped improve the way our department thinks about science, and has spilled over into other departments that are also looking at higher levels of scholarship.”

Peter Southam, Science Department Chair

A Dynamic World

While Gould already had a strong performing arts reputation as an All-Steinway School and host to the Music Without Borders International Piano Festival, Matt knew that Bethel, Maine was not the center of the musical universe. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t bring the musical universe to Bethel. Matt leveraged the school’s solid foundation and enviable resources into a distance learning partnership with the Manhattan School of Music that allows Gould students to study with world-class instructors via a state-of-the-art video conferencing system. He also saw the potential for a high-level chamber orchestra. These programs have grown in recent years from just a few students to well over twenty musicians that perform regularly and take private lessons.

The Chamber Ensemble performs the work of John Williams with visiting MSM instructor Thomas Mesa, using “light saber” bows they created in the Marlon Family IDEAS Center.

“Matt discovered the opportunity for a partnership with the Manhattan School of Music and realized the potential for advancing our music program. The program has flourished and Gould has been able to attract a new type of student-musician with this fully interactive distance learning experience. He encouraged a curriculum that supports a chamber ensemble with full online rehearsals. The quality of the music has grown exponentially because of this partnership.” 

James McLauglin, Performing Arts Department Chair

The Willingness to Risk

At Gould, we encourage students to step outside their comfort zone, Matt did so with almost reckless abandon time and time again. Even before his appointment, he and Kathy jumped at the chance to precariously pose for a future Gould Holiday card, piloting a one-horse open sleigh across the upper field. At “Day 1” it was clear that Matt was a force of nature. Whatever the school asked, he was game.

Matt and Kathy in a one-horse open sleigh

He corralled escaped pigs and took over barn chores during school vacations. Knowing he’d have to be a Gould ambassador on the chairlift, the native southerner learned to ski at Sunday River. And that was only the beginning. He went winter camping on Junior Four Point. He plunged into ice cold water with Polar Bears, and participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. He slept in tents with Ninth Graders in Tanzania and explored the African plains.

He cast appearances aside while attempting Circus Arts during Tenth Grade Four Point, and he put his trust in others and strapped in for high-flying fun on the ropes course at Camp Kawanhee. He never asked anything of anyone that he wasn’t willing to try himself. Matt is one hundred percent committed, from driving the lane against the Varsity Basketball teams to his legendary Commencement Concert vocal performances.

Open-Minded Exploration

It’s in this spirit of adventure and risk that Matt came to value experiential education. He knew that learning by doing was at the core of the Gould experience, but that it needed focus and organization. He turned to Chris Hayward to develop a program that would focus Gould’s efforts, and embed Experiential Learning into everything we do. During Matt’s time here, Gould’s Ninth Grade Four Point destinations expanded from one to three. Students also travel internationally to several other locations. Students and faculty are pushing the boundaries of the Gould “campus” even further than ever imagined.

Matt on safari in Tanzania during a Ninth Grade Four Point trip

Matt has been overheard regularly explaining that “when students come to Gould, they aren’t preparing for some distant future. They are living life right now. When they come to campus it’s game on.”

Sharing stories around the campfire on Junior Point

“Matt fully understands the value of learning by doing. His focus and attention to the Arts, the Marlon Family IDEAS Center, Four Point Program development, and his continued commitment to outdoor leadership has been an essential part of Gould’s success.”

Chris Hayward, Director of Experiential Learning

The Energy to Try

At this year’s Commencement Ceremony, in one of Matt’s final public moments as Head of School, Board of Trustees President Phyllis Gardiner P’09 paid tribute to Matt and Kathy and delivered a proclamation to Matt, declaring him Head of School Emeritus from that day forward.

Phyllis Gardiner P’09 paying tribute to Matt at Commencement

“Matt has sustained Gould as a leader in private secondary education in the 21st century. He thoroughly understands and lives the mission. Guiding an institution through a period of change requires intense focus and tireless effort. Matt brought immense talent and energy to the task, and the institution has benefited greatly. He initiated, encouraged, inspired, and guided countless efforts, and we are extremely grateful.”

Phyllis Gardiner P’09, President, Gould Academy Board of Trustees

Matt championing Gould Ninth Graders

A Caring Community

At the core of everything Matt accomplished were the students. His commitment to advancing the school was always driven by the goal of providing the best possible experience for Gould families. He’s left an indelible mark on Gould, and positioned the Academy for a bright and limitless future. Gould thanks you, Matt, for everything.


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