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An interview with our Head of Upper School, Dr. Joseph Cox

Yuqi Yang, Editor-In-Chief

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I had the pleasure of sitting down with our new Head of Upper School, Dr. Cox, recently, and we had a lovely conversation. Here is a summary of our little chat:

 

Yuqi: Good day! Thank you for sitting down with me to do this interview and welcome to Country Day! How do you like it so far?

Dr. Cox: I really like it. It is a lovely environment. The faculty and the students are empowered in dignity.

Yuqi: That’s fabulous. If you don’t mind, what is your impression of Country Day students?

Dr. Cox: Country Day is a student-centered school. It is here for the students, not for reputation, or even for the adults. The faculty works very, very hard to put students first. I think that the students know and appreciate that, and they understand Dr. Krahn’s emphasis on dignity. They are respected individuals who respect each others’ unique abilities.

Yuqi: I am happy to hear you say that. Will you tell me a little about your previous position at Haverford?

Dr. Cox: I was the Headmaster of the Haverford School for 15 years. I came there straight from West Point, where I taught English. Half of my army career was spent teaching at West Point. When I first arrived at Haverford, we had 700 students, and when I left, we were over 1,200. It was not a hard transition from the Army to Haverford; I had worked with teenage boys, soldiers, most of my life, so I kind of knew what to expect. Leading Haverford was a great experience. There were wonderful families and great boys who are now great men with whom I am in contact with almost daily. Many alumni came back to work at meaningful positions at the school.

Yuqi: That is great. What would you say is the biggest difference between all-boys school and co-ed school?

Dr. Cox: I did raise a son and I did raise a daughter. I am perhaps a little slower in building appropriate and close relationships with the LJCDS girls. Because of my history, I feel more comfortable with the boys, and need to make myself more available to the girls. That is my problem. That said, I think that students at this age have similar needs. One lie that adults often tell students is that “this is the best time of your life.” The truth is that this is a tough time; lots of things are happening physically and emotionally. Adolescence is critical for the rest of your life, equally important for boys and girls. They need teachers who know and love them, which is what Country Day strives for.

Yuqi: I know that you have edited an anthology of early American war prose, and written a volume of poetry called “Gardens Close”. It would be awesome if we could publish one of your poems along with this interview. Which would you say is the most appropriate?

Dr. Cox: There is one poem that I wrote about my son’s first experience in Iraq, I will mail it to you later.

Yuqi: Last question, will you sign my copy of your book?

Dr. Cox: Of course!

 

 

And here is one other poem by Dr. Cox that he kindly shared with me:

 

Looking for Odd Jobs, Walt Whitman Repairs Emily Dickinson’s Black Porch Door — May 14th, 1850

 

Breeze-beaten hawthorn petals collect

against the barn. You doff

your black hat, roll up your sleeves,

and start work on the bulged door.

From upstairs I watch your loaf —

pick chokecherry blossoms,

walk back and forth to the well,

and, drunk on your own perfume, dance

on thick legs in heavy boots,

mouthing an aria I never heard.

Later the plane rasps its passing breath,

the hammer, dull heartbeats.

Stillness. Your work complete.

I lock the newly-snug door and retreat.

 

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An interview with our Head of Upper School, Dr. Joseph Cox