Ayres Stiles-Hall P’23 ’24

English Department Head

Annie McGarry poses for her headshot during the "Annual Head Tour Guide Photoshoot" outside the Chapel on Sep. 13, 2021. (Photo by Nicholas Pfosi)

How long have you worked at Concord Academy?

I have worked at CA since the fall of 2000. 

In what departments do you teach?

I teach in the English Department, though I also worked in the office of Community and Equity from 2008-2017. I have been the chair of the English Department from 2017-2023, and I led the office of Community and Equity from 2011-2015.

What do you enjoy about living on campus?

It is so much fun to get to know students outside of the classroom and to live in a community with some of my colleagues.

What other areas of involvement at CA do you have?

I’m a student advisor and an administrator on duty in Residential Life. I’ve coached soccer for 20 of the 23 years I’ve been here. In addition, I advise the CA Snail Mail Collective, a club that writes letters to support people on the margins of society.

What is the best part about working and teaching at CA?

Honestly, it’s very difficult to pick just one thing! But I think there are two qualities that permeate the community that make everything else work: curiosity and compassion. Everyone at CA is here on purpose because they want to grow: they want to learn more about the world, and about themselves. At CA, “love of learning” is not just a slogan: people live this tenet of our mission every day.

How is teaching at CA different from teaching at other schools?

I started teaching so that I could continue to learn. One thing that I’ve especially appreciated about teaching at CA is the shared sense of joy about the possibility of growth. Folks at CA seem always to be striving for a better way to do things. Teachers delight in a class that “clicks,” where everything goes according to plan and real discovery follows. My colleagues respond with compassion and humor when something doesn’t go according to plan, and there’s thoughtful discussion about how future lessons might be better. 

What do you enjoy about living on campus with staff and students?

I love living on campus because my neighbors are a wonderful group of kind, smart, funny, and caring people. I get to have amazing conversations walking home from work, and at dinner in the dining hall, and on the weekends. Living on campus means knowing that my neighbors will laugh with me and support me.

What makes CA students special?

CA students are special because they’re willing to accept, and even celebrate, what might seem like a contradiction: when it turns out that someone who excels at chemistry is also a talented painter, or when it turns out that someone who does beautiful things on the soccer field is also a poet, no one is surprised. Rather than trying to “pigeon hole” people into a one-dimensional self, CA students embrace the full scope of everyone’s identity.