Farewell to George Thompson '64 & Bob Kindley

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Two longtime educators retire
From the Spring 2010 Caller

George Thompson ’64 has launched into retirement after spending 25 years at Catlin Gabel—first as a student, then as a teacher and counselor. He’s become a familiar presence on campus, with his service dog, Cairo, receiving almost as much daily love and attention as George gets.

George’s career has centered on education. After earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Colorado College and the University of Washington, he first taught at Middlesex School, the school he attended after Catlin Gabel. “But I was bitten by the bug and wanted to start a school of my own,” he says. When he was 26 he and his wife, Margot Voorhies Thompson ’66, created Neskowin Valley School out of an old dairy barn in south Tillamook County. “It worked. The gods were with me. It was a wonderful, exciting project,” says George. They ran the preschool-8th grade school for 14 years, until they moved back to Portland to enroll their son, Geordie, in Catlin Gabel’s high school.
George worked for a year as the head of Vision Northwest, an agency supporting people new to blindness. He returned to Catlin Gabel in 1989 to teach 8th grade English. Six years later he embarked on a new job as counselor in training, spending four years at night school at Lewis & Clark for his master’s in counseling psychology and the credentials to become a full-fledged Upper School counselor. “This was an opportunity for me to delve deeper into the personal challenges of young people and help them become emotionally more literate and learn to help each other,” he says.
George is proud of the work he’s done on the Peer Helpers program, which trains students to help their friends solve their problems. He’s also enjoyed teaming with coach John Hamilton to teach the sophomore health class, which focuses on citizenship, ethics, choices, and self-knowledge. “I can’t see myself being idle and probably have a career left in me. I don’t know what or when it’ll be, but it’ll probably involve music. I will miss having kids around every day, but I feel like it’s a good time to say goodbye,” says George.
Bob Kindley retires this summer after 42 years of teaching math at Catlin Gabel. A graduate of Reed College with a master’s in mathematics from the University of Oregon, Bob always wanted to be a high school teacher—especially after attending five high schools around the country and seeing the best and worst of teaching.
Bob’s teaching philosophy echoes that of Catlin Gabel. “I want kids to ask their own questions and pursue the answers—not just give back what the text or teacher says. What they find doesn’t have to be profound or new, but it’s a sign that they’re thinking about the topic and getting a perspective on it,” he says.
“Math is the hardest thing to teach,” he says. “Some students have the gift to see to the heart of the problem. We tend to shortchange those students—it’s often a case of ‘show your work’—but we want to cultivate that rare gift of intuition.”
Bob fondly remembers his first year at Catlin Gabel, when he taught Tom Killian ’69 and Dan Bump ’70 (who’s now a mathematician). “I learned more from them about mathematical creativity and insight than ever before. I had many other fun classes, especially the class of 1971, with Mike Radow, Ilan Caron, and Bill Rempfer. It was a time when ideas were flying around, and we all got in on the thinking process.”
Bob has no big plans for retirement, but he expects to garden, travel, camp, hike, and fish. “I’m not done with math,” he says, and he plans to work on math projects and perhaps return to the school to tutor or substitute. “Catlin Gabel is a good school,” he says. “I’ve liked working with the faculty: there are good people here.”