By Mairin Hoffman ’25
On June 16th, The Frederick Gunn School announced Mr. Small’s retirement after 45 years. Mr. Small has been an integral part of the Gunn community since he and his wife’s arrival in 1977. After only one year, I started to understand how vital Mr. Small’s presence was to the community. I was honored to be in his Algebra I class my freshman year, and along with many others, we all appreciated that class because of his humor and passionate teaching.
Mr. Small was a fundamental part of the community for four decades. He was a math teacher, an advisor, a coach, and so much more to his students. He created unforgettable memories. Mr. Small always tried to include humor in his lessons, which might have made his students uncomfortable at first, but we learned to embrace it. During the first week of school, I remember he just asked us questions about our lives so we could all get comfortable in the class together. He also wanted us to know things about him, especially his love for music and his grandson. I was not used to that, especially since I was new and did not expect it. I remember the day spring break started everyone just wanted class to end, so Mr. Small let Ben Elsberg ‘25 talk to the whole class, and the next thing I knew, we were all explaining why Kanye West changed his name to Ye to Mr. Small. It was one of the funniest classes of my life, and it was enjoyable to let Mr. Small into our lives in the tiniest way.
I asked some of my friends about their favorite moments of Mr. Small’s class, and they all said the same thing: Blackies. Mr. Small made a joke every class where he would say whoever participated in class would come to Blackies with him. Our class was a quiet one. Mr. Small always talked about his love for hot dogs and often mentioned his love for a small stand called Blackies. He told two students in my class that he would take them to Blackies, and mentioned it every day until the end of the year.
On the last day of class, Mr. Small hugged everyone goodbye, and I didn’t realize it would possibly be the last time I saw him. I wrote this article to thank Mr. Small for connecting with us and making that class one of my most cherished high school memories. I think Mr. Small’s students will never forget their time with him.
Thank you, Mr. Small, for all the good you brought to The Frederick Gunn School; the community won’t be the same without you.