Who am I?

They call me Bruce.

G’day, Bruce. Employers and governments know me as Bruce L. Smith.

In terms of vocation and career, I’ve been in the field of education for over twenty years. My credentials include degrees in English and History (Northwestern University) and Education (the University of Missouri-Columbia), with additional study in religion (the University of Chicago) and creative writing (the University of Colorado-Boulder).

After starting my career in the public schools of Columbia, Missouri, I’ve been working with Sudbury schools since 1997. In 1998 I joined the staff of Alpine Valley School, where my duties involved teaching and mentoring young people ages 5 to 19, as well as a great deal of administrative and promotional work. I co-founded the Center for Advancing Sudbury Education, or CASE, in 2006. You can see and/or hear me talk about Sudbury schooling in videos from Alpine Valley School and Clearview Sudbury School, a speech I gave called 15 Years in  New Paradigm, and an interview I gave for the Internet radio show Liberating Kids.

Aside from my work as an educator, I’ve taken on numerous freelance jobs over the years. I’ve written on such subjects as SAT prep,  finding and naturalizing a foreign spouse, and a Bach festival’s children’s programming. I edited Glenn Jones’ novel Death Insurance, and for a time I wrote abstracts of technology-related magazine and newspaper articles. Writing and editing have also been a major part of my work for Alpine Valley School. A few years ago, two of my children’s book manuscripts were very nearly published (a long story in itself).

On a personal level, I grew up in the Midwest—primarily Missouri, where I also spent most of my 20s. I lived in Illinois for two stretches, and moved to Colorado in 1998. I’ve been a cat owner since 1991 (with brief interruptions), and divorced since 2006. Gradually I’ve begun discovering the joys of heathy living, and thus I journal, meditate, and work out nearly every day. (Healthy eating is still somewhat elusive, as I’m not fond of cooking and ambivalent about shelling out the cash for organic food.) Spending time outdoors is important to me, and I prefer biking or walking over driving whenever feasible.

Musically inclined from a very young age, I took several years of piano and trumpet lessons growing up. As an adult, my primary musical outlet has been choir. (I do still enjoy playing my digital piano, and wish I did so more often.) From 2003 to the present I’ve sung with the Ars Nova Singers, based in Boulder, Colorado, with the exception of the 2012-13 season, when I sang in both ensembles of Chorus Austin).

Spiritually speaking, I’m never quite sure how to describe myself: a skeptical freethinker? An agnostic atheist with humanistic tendencies? A not-quite-card-carrying Zen Buddhist? Offsetting my disbelief in the supernatural (a true oxymoron: if something exists, it is by definition natural), I also ascribe to Shakespeare’s notion that “there are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Since the early 2000s I’ve been cultivating a steadily deepening Zen practice.

In June of 2012 I moved from Denver to Austin, in large part to search for more of my magic mantra “Money, Mission, Mate and Home.” During that year, I staffed at Clearview Sudbury School and joined the Austin Zen Center. For reasons explained elsewhere, I returned to Colorado in May 2013 to focus more keenly on CASE.

I welcome dialogue and collaboration. You are invited to comment on the posts in this blog and/or email me at friendsofsudburyschooling@gmail.com.

One response to “Who am I?

  1. Pingback: Teachers Without Masks: a Sudbury Alternative | Write Learning