Ayres Stiles-Hall was not originally going to be a teacher. 

“My grandfather was a lawyer […] and I had thought that I was gonna to be one [as well],” he explained. It was only in the middle of his college career when he witnessed a professor arguing with his classmate about constitutional law did Stiles-Hall seriously consider a career in education. “I thought: [that professor] gets to talk with smart people about something he cares about,” Stiles-Hall says. “Yeah, I could do that.”

Today, it’s hard to imagine Concord Academy without Stiles-Hall, who has been a prominent member of the community for over two decades. Be it learning alongside Stiles-Hall in Freshman English or one of his unique upper-level courses or working with him in his role as a Department Head, chances are that students will have interacted with Stiles-Hall at one point or another during their CA careers.

Stiles-Hall's first experience with the CA community was not in his capacity as an educator. Moving back to Massachusetts from California 23 years ago, Stiles-Hall missed the hiring season for private schools and ended up CA’s Girls’ JV Soccer in the fall and the Boys’ Varsity Wrestling Team in the winter. Stiles-Hall quickly fell in love with the school community, particularly how students were treated as equal partners in learning alongside their instructors. “I remember watching the way students […] interacted with me, which was sort of respectful without being distanced. And I was really intrigued,” he says. A few years later, when a spot in the English Department opened up, Stiles-Hall applied, was offered a job, and has been teaching at CA ever since.

For Stiles-Hall, English courses enable students to immediately dive into conversations surrounding the precision and beauty of language and encourage them to consider how that language responds to changes in human culture and society. “I just love the immediacy of literature and poetry and drama,” he says. Stiles-Hall also appreciates how English brings diversity into learning, saying, “With literature and poetry, you can get so many different voices in the room so quickly. And you can get so much immediate and unrestricted access to different perspectives through time.”

Stiles-Hall particularly enjoys the collaborative elements of the subject. “[English is] a class about the literature, but it's also a class about what it means to be human. Individually and collectively […] we’re a communal species, and we’re [going to] sink or swim because of the way we connect with each other,” he says. In his own English classes, Stiles-Hall not only empowers his students to ask questions and to pursue thoughtful answers, but also encourages collaboration between the members of each classroom community, wanting to help students better process and explain their discoveries to each other. 

Outside of teaching, Stiles-Hall enjoys reading, walking in the woods, and spending time with his family. This past fall, he took up biking and toured large swaths of Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. Stiles-Hall has also sung bass and tenor in a number of different choirs; in one of his favorite instances, Stiles-Hall and an adult chorus from Weston performed the national anthem at Fenway Park.

When asked about his favorite artistic works, Stiles-Hall says, “I have never been able to choose favorites. I’ve always loved top five lists because […] all of [our favorite] things are contextual, right?” For Stiles-Hall, the art he enjoys consuming depends on the moment. With literature, for instance, he has found himself enjoying a wide range of graphic novels, poetry, and novels at different times. Above all, Stiles-Hall recommends simply reading stories, and not just those in the strictly textual sense. “You can read the story of a town’s history. Read the story of the way our relationship to the land changes. You can read a forest. Henry David Thoreau taught us that.” To Stiles-Hall, reading helps one gain awareness of different voices and world perspectives.

Stiles-Hall feels humbled by the idea of giving advice to anybody, as he believes the CA community already holds great wisdom. Ultimately, Stiles-Hall recommends paying close attention to the words of others and applying the lessons they teach you to your own life.