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The Milton Measure

Departing Faculty: Paul Menneg

by Caroline McCarthy on Friday, June 9th, 2017

If one was to walk into one of Mr. Menneg’s classrooms, he or she would encounter some students working diligently, while others pester him for guidance for centering a slab of clay, choosing the perfect underglaze, or maybe attempting to use the jigsaw for the first time.

On the best days, one sees his eager students of all grades leaning forward around the large AMC tables as they listen religiously to another one of his notorious stories, whether it be his secret “Raku Fire” that caught the attention of the local fire department or “The Pretzel Stand”.

Regardless of the assignment, day, or time of year, Mr. Menneg played a medley of ‘70s and ‘80s classics on his prehistoric boom box, on a channel you never listened to, as he quizzed his students on the songs’ artists and lyrics. His students additionally took part in a year long “Tacky Postcard competition” in which he asked everyone to send him the ugliest post card from their winter and spring break travels; the winner, of course, received a dessert of their choosing from The Ice Cream Smith.

It’s no wonder Mr. Menneg was loved among all students and faculty members. His presence, knowledge, and humor will be greatly missed. After 37 years of working at Milton as a teacher in the art department, a faculty sponsor of Lorax and a former ski coach, Mr. Menneg retired after first semester this year. After continuing the second half of the year in his place, his wife, Ms. Stark, is retiring at the end of this year as well.

Mr. Menneg began working in Milton’s art department, specifically in sculpture and ceramics, when he was 30. On his time here, Mrs. Stark notes that “if you think [Mr. Menneg] is full of beans now, he was really full of beans then.” She remembers her husband, in his first years at Milton, challenging then junior John Bisbee to a back flip competition, which resulted in Mr. Menneg landing directly on his head. While most students probably wouldn’t see Mr. Menneg performing back flips anymore, many enjoy his stories that only occasionally stretch the truth.

Claire Huffman (‘15) enjoyed Mr. Menneg’s humorous tales and recounts how, in her class, Mr. Menneg fooled his students into believing that he cooked pretzels in the kiln, which became an ongoing joke throughout the year. Claire credits Mr. Menneg as “one of the best role models at Milton”, and cites him as the reason why she became so passionate about ceramics, a skill that she has continued in college. She believes her Milton experience would have been quite different without him.

For most, Mr. Menneg is more than a teacher, but also a mentor and a fan. Lily McCarthy (‘15), who was also in Claire’s class, admired Mr. Menneg for his wit and flexibility “as one of the most genuine people [she] has ever met. He always greeted [her classes’s] somewhat stupid ideas with a smile and helped them turn them into something to be proud of.” Lily admired his dedication to all students, regardless of their ages or interests, and she warmly remembers his interest in the wins, losses and successes in the seasons of the athletes in his classes.

Devon Park (II) thanks Mr. Menneg for helping to spark her now strong interest in pottery. Devon recalls her studio art class as being rather quiet until, after starting her second project, she and her friends were laughing at one other’s “artistic” drawings. She remembers Mr. Menneg helping our friend with a bizarre bird like human sketch, as they laughed at its’ absurdity, to which he quietly responded, “watch out for the lighting.” He proceeded to elaborate to his confused students about his satirical belief of “cosmic justice” in which he jokingly justified nature as a form of retribution.

From this moment of both humor and affection for his students, Mr. Menneg became one of Devon’s favorite teachers at this school. Devon enjoys his emails titled “Dear Best Friend,” his desk drawer of snacks, and his support of all of her home JV hockey games.

Before Mr. Torney was a head of the art department, he was a sophomore who was kicked out of Mr. Menneg’s art class. After many years knowing each other, Mr. Torney admires Mr. Menneg’s outstanding artistic abilities, which earn him the title of “The Yoda of Ceramics”. Above all, Mr. Torney cherishes Mr. Menneg’s “quiet and reasoned wisdom and presence.” Today, he recognizes Mr. Menneg as a “wonderful teacher, colleague and friend”. Mr. Torney, and many others who had the pleasure of working with Mr. Menneg, wish Mr. Menneg many well deserved hours in his basement, a win for the Yankees, and “an abundance of fresh powder for skiing into his retirement.” We will all miss you Mr. Menneg, and thank you for your kindness and love towards the Milton community.

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Posted by Caroline McCarthy on Jun 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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