Following a three year break from teaching, new Teaching Assistant Robert Hansbury is looking forward to a reentry here at Westford Academy.
Q: Let’s get to know a little bit about you. Where did you grow up? Do you have any favorite childhood memories?
A: I grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and attended high school there. My favorite childhood memories are definitely playing baseball and basketball; they were definitely a big part of my life. My favorite sport was probably baseball. I played left field my sophomore and junior seasons, and then my senior year I played center.
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of school you enjoy partaking in?
A: I have my son who’s three-and-a-half, so most of my time is with him. I guess you could call that a hobby. We do a lot of stuff, painting and all that good stuff.
Q: Seeing that the teachers at Westford Academy are all role models, what role models did you have and rely on throughout your high school career?
A: I think [Michael O’Keeffe] was my role model. He was a history teacher there and the varsity baseball coach. He just left; this was his last year there. [He is] definitely a positive influence in my life. He helped me through high school, whenever I needed, questions, advice, etc. I actually coached at Chelmsford High for about six years, so I worked with him too. It was good to see another side of him.
Q: How have you gotten to this point in your career?
A: When my son was born, I took three years off. I worked at another school before this, Valley Collaborative. I just started back up about three weeks ago. [It is] definitely good to get back into being positive influences on kids and stuff like that. It’s definitely something I enjoy doing. I’m glad to be back for sure.
Q: What persuaded you to pursue this job?
A: [Bruce Rich] is one of my really good friends. He works here. He said ‘we have a job opening’ and I applied for it. I ended up getting it. I mean, I couldn’t be happier with it.
Q: As it is your first year here at Westford Academy, would you mind providing a description of your job here?
A: With a student here, I work one-on-one. My job is to make sure that we are staying on task, making sure he gets to his classes, making sure his work is getting done, etc. I work from 7:25-11, I come home, and we’ll meet after school from 12-2. I just met him three weeks ago, and now we’re best friends!
Q: How have your interactions with both students and staff been so far this year?
A: I mean honestly, everyone is super friendly, [and] super professional. There’s definitely a lot of positive energy in the school for sure. I know [Bruce Rich], and [William Saunders]. I am friends with him outside of school too, so definitely those two. [Scott Brown] the gym teacher is super nice. He’s been great, telling me what to do, playing tennis with the kids, and stuff like that. [Roni Elliot], she’s one of the special education teachers too. She’s been great.
Q: How has the pandemic affected your style of teaching, as well as the classroom environment you are used to being in?
A: I manage at the Boston Billiards Casino up in Nashua, and we’re required to wear masks, and we have to make sure all the other employees wear their masks also. I think I had a little bit of a step up. But it’s definitely an adjustment. Wearing masks makes it a lot harder. It makes you feel a bit claustrophobic in your face. But obviously, we want to respect and make sure everyone is healthy. That’s definitely the right thing to do.
Q: What kind of adjustments have you made to ease into the swing of things this school year?
A: I mean, having three years off, it’s definitely been different. Not to say it’s stressful, but it’s been an adjustment getting back into it. I think wearing a mask is the main thing. Just making sure you follow the directions, making sure everyone’s being safe [is very important].
Q: Do you feel safe here in school with the hybrid model that is intact? Why or why not?
A: I feel like there’s no perfect answer, because there’s still a lot of unknown about what’s going on with COVID. I do think that this is the best plan that could possibly be put in place. I think we’re giving people the option whether they want to come to school or not, and the people that are there are always wearing a mask. There’s not a person I see in school without their mask on at any point in time. So I think, as long as everybody does their part, it’s going to be a successful model.