Teacher Feature: Mr. Tom Boyle

Helen Li, Staff Writer

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Writer’s note: Each person has their own story. When Mr. O’Bryan passed away a few weeks ago, many students were shocked and sad. Although I was never taught by him, I heard many great stories about how he influenced this school. High school only lasts four years and sometimes we only know our teachers through a classroom perspective.

Seeing the surprise of the students at learning the details of Mr. O’Bryan’s personal life inspired me to start this project. Each biweekly issue will include an interview with a Maggie Walker staff member about their personal lives. I hope that it helps us get to know our teachers a little bit better.


Mr. Boyle teaches his 2nd-period physics class; he says his favorite part of teaching is “seeing the development of his students.”

Srishti Sanya
Mr. Boyle teaches his 2nd-period physics class; he says his favorite part of teaching is “seeing the development of his students.”

HL: Where were you born and how has that influenced you?

TB: I was born in New Jersey. I was only two when we moved from New Jersey. I’ve lived in central New York, Michigan and Indiana, the Midwest for a couple of years, then the Deep South, in Louisiana. It was when I got to the Deep South, after having moved from there from Northeast, there was quite a cultural difference there.

Although I was still a young boy at that time, I vividly remember the Civil Rights workers that went missing in Mississippi and were executed and found buried in these mounds along the highways. And I also lived in an area where the Ku Klux Klan was very active. I grew up with that history and because I came from the Northeast, I was different myself from the people I lived with. That I think greatly influenced my ability to understand and tolerate differences among people and to feel empathy towards different cultures, races, [and people].

HL: What’s your favorite thing about teaching?

TB: Well, for me, it’s really to see the development of my students over the course of a period of time. Since I teach primarily juniors, some seniors, there’s such a distinct change in that individual from when you first see them in September to when they leave your doors in June that is hard to describe. It’s a wonderful thing to see that mature; they perform better academically and socially.

HL: What are your hobbies?

TB: Well, my greatest hobby is bicycling. Back in 1990, I did a cross country bicycling road trip [in a group]. It was all self-contained, meaning that you take your equipment with you, you camp on the road, and we went from Yorktown, Virginia, to Astoria, Oregon. We were on the road for what was like a period of 80, almost 90 days with like 10 days off. It teaches you a lot about yourself and to get along with people under the most trying conditions imaginable. You drive across the country by car? I don’t think you are going to get the experience of doing it on the back of a bike for a lot of different reasons.

HL: What is on your bucket list?
TB: One main thing on my bucket list is to spend time in a land down under, like New Zealand to Australia. And actually to spend a significant amount of time there. And  on the way, do some island-hopping in the South Pacific. Catch Hawaii, Fiji, and all those Polynesian Islands, you know, that are scattered amongst the ocean. I’d just like to immerse myself in their culture.

You don’t really get to understand the people and the culture until you spend a good deal of time with them. The longer you can stay, the better. Because my other thing is, to combine that with cycling. I’ve looked for cycling tours across Australia; I don’t think there are any specifically. But there might be in the future.

Another thing that I’d like to do is get to Alaska and have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. And maybe visit Antarctica before it melts into the sea. And also some of the islands that are off the coast of South America are unique, like Easter Island and the Galapagos. Those would be further down the list but I’d like the opportunity to go to those places as well

HL: Thank you Mr. Boyle for sharing your past and your future with us. I hope that you eventually get to go on that trip and cycle across Australia.

TB: Well, as Hank Williams said, “If the good Lord’s willing and a creek don’t rise!” I’ll be there. [Chuckles]




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