John Schmick, C'01, (left) and Harvey Martin, C'70, are loyal alumni and dedicated to preparing young people for success.
Harvey Martin, C'70, and John Schmick, C'01, do not know one another but their lives are intertwined in interesting ways. Schmick teaches at St. Christopher's School in Richmond, Virginia, and Martin was a boy scout leader who was a mentor of a St. Christopher's student who is now attending Sewanee in the class of 2012. The two alumni are also proponents of the idea that regular annual giving to their alma mater is akin to good citizenship. Martin's name appears on plaques honoring twenty-five years of giving, and Schmick is well on his way, having made a donation to Sewanee every year since graduating.
"The consistency and care of giving year after year is meaningful," Martin says. "It is a habit that anyone can acquire. It does not take wealth--only loyalty and the idea that it is important to give back."
Martin is a registered investment advisor and head of the advisory functions for his company CBS Advisors, where he is vice president and COO. In addition to a busy work life, Martin has been involved as a boy scout leader since 1989. "A friend of mine asked me to help out with a boy scout troop," he remembers. "I was unsure about it but I said I would try it for six weeks. If it wasn't enjoyable then, I would stop. I've been working for nineteen years on a six-week schedule."
Volunteering has also been an important part of John Schmick's life. A history major at Sewanee, Schmick counts serving in the fire department among his best experiences at Sewanee. "I probably learned more about life as a fireman than I did in all my classes at Sewanee. I loved hanging out at the station with some of the older guys, going to Pop's Happyland, and talking about life, politics, culture."
Now he spends his days talking about 20th Century history, geography and teamwork with students at St. Christopher's school in Richmond, Virginia, where he teaches in the middle school and coaches seventh grade football.
St. Christopher's sits in a quiet, tree filled residential neighborhood of Richmond, west of the Fan District. The middle school campus sits behind the wooded main campus and is a hub of earnest activity. For Schmick, St. Christopher's is comfortable ground--almost like home. In his native Baltimore, he grew up attending Gilman School, and the headmaster at St. Christopher's spent time at Gilman. Now he lives about 200 yards from his classroom in a house owned by the school. He can walk to work and be closely involved with the life of the school. He attends graduate school at the University of Richmond a short drive away, and finds shopping convenient.
"I like this place," Schmick says. "I feel as though I am helping these students have a great experience that will prepare them for life. I teach sixth graders and get involved with the community-building activities that get them accustomed to middle school. Then, I get to interact with many of those same students, the ones who play football, when they move up to seventh grade."
Sewanee is never all that far from Schmick's thoughts, and he has made a gift to the annual fund or the fire department every year since graduating. A Sewanee cross poster adorns the wall, and Schmick drinks coffee from a Sewanee mug. "I feel like one of the ways I can help Sewanee is by talking about it with students. In middle school, not many boys are actively thinking about college yet, but I'd like to think I'll still have influence over them as juniors and seniors. As Sewanee rebuilds its Off Campus Admission Program (OCAP), Schmick would like to become more involved.
A generation apart, Martin and Schmick exemplify some important Sewanee ideals of service to others, involvement in community, and loyalty. For both, giving back to Sewanee is an important part of the way they have constructed their lives. Neither asks Sewanee to be perfect. In fact Martin, in particular, has questions about how much the University honors its traditions. Yet both believe personal honor means supporting a place where they lived, learned, and prepared themselves for a life of achievement and service.