The life story

I suppose the best place to start would be an overview of who I am, and where I came from.

I was born at Putnam Count Hospital August 28th, 1979.  I spent the first 18 years of my life in Mahopac NY, living with my parents, and one younger sister.  Putnam County is the first county north of Westchester, bordered to the north by Dutchess County.  To the east is Connecticut, with the city of Danbury being a frequent shopping destination for my family, and many others from my area.  The western side of the county was bordered by the Hudson river.  Across the river was West Point, and Bear Mountain, both destinations for my family.  Mahopac itself was once more of a rural and vacation area, that has grown in more substantially in recent decades.  My graduating class was about 330 people, a little bit bigger than Queensbury, where I now live.   We were also just a short distance from NYC, where my grandparents lived, and both my parents grew up.  We made frequent trips into the city, and my family travelled a lot in general.  Several times we’ve driven cross country, visiting my uncle in Los Angeles.  I’ve been to close to 40 states at this point, oddly enough, Florida was never one of them.

I enjoyed sports growing up, most of the boys in my town played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the summer.  I wasn’t much good at basketball or baseball, but fortunately I was good enough at soccer that I was able to make the towns travel team, and play year round throughout middle school.  This was also a time when children would play outdoors once school was over and on weekends.  “Be home in time for dinner” was the rule of the day.  We explored the woods in the summer, had snowball fights in the winter, and children from all around the neighborhood would gather at a nearby field for pick up games of soccer, baseball, football, basketball, or whatever else we felt like playing.  Most games eventually turned into some variation of “kill the carrier”  or otherwise just wrestling.  As we got older, “manhunt” was a favorite game in the evenings.

I was always a pretty good student, my father was a science teacher in the city of Poughkeepsie.  I have two uncles who are college professors, as was my grandfather.  So I was always taught to value my education, and there was a strong expectation I would do well in school.  I was never super competitive about my grades, but I always got my work done, and would eventually graduate in the top 10% of my grade.  I was pretty shy and awkward with people I did not know, especially girls, but pretty hyperactive and quirky around people I was comfortable with.  I was never cool or popular, but I got along pretty well with a large percentage of the student body, moving in between social groups.  I had good grades, so I was in the honors classes, so I had a lot of friends from there.  I was also a three season athlete, participating in wrestling and track all four years.  In the fall, I had gotten tired of soccer, and had finally convinced my parents to let me play football.  I was fully grown at 5’7″ 150 pounds by freshman year, so they put me on the line.  I did pretty good there, and even scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery once.  sophomore year I was the same size, and had a more difficult time, but still had fun.  But as I wasn’t getting any bigger, playing on the varsity would have been difficult, especially in our league.  So I switched over to cross-country for my final two years.  So I had my friends from sports.  I was in the school band, playing the trombone.  So there was more friends.  I was active in our churches youth group, so that was another group of people.  I was briefly involved in Boy Scouts, and spent a lot of time involved with 4-H, I was in one nature based club, and a second which was more of a county youth committee.  I also did Youth Court through the county.

But my main group of friends could be found in German class.  This wasn’t because we all had an interest in German, and just happened to find each other.  Our school offered four languages, french and spanish were the most popular.   We had Italian as well, as a large part of the town was of Italian descent.  We actually have a statue of Columbus at our town hall.  And then for some reason, we had German.  Hardly anyone took the class, so there weren’t many sections of the course.  My friends from middle school saw this as an opportunity to stay together as a group.  If we took German, we would all be in the same class together.  And the teacher was not strict at all, so we got to have a lot of fun in class, and I actually did learn a little of the language too.   We had a mix of people in our group of friends.  We were all pretty good students, including our valedictorian.   Some of us were athletes, some of us did band, but German class was always our fun hang out time.

As high school was coming to an end, I couldn’t decide where I wanted to go to college, or what I wanted to do.  I probably visited two or three dozen different places, but didn’t particularly like any of them.  And I also didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I had considered going to one of the service academies, but ultimately decided I wanted a traditional liberal arts college, but I was still thinking of joining the military later.  Colgate University was my eventual destination.  It was one of those experiences where we had gone there on a visit, and I knew right away that was where I wanted to go.  I had applied early decision, and it was the only college I sent and application to.

College was a lot different from high school, I had ignored the advice of people who knew me, who knew I wouldn’t fit in at Colgate, but went anyway.  It’s not that Colgate was a bad place, but there were a lot of things about it that weren’t me.   I didn’t drink.  Never had.   I think there were two people in my freshman dorm of some 200 people who weren’t getting drunk every weekend, and sometimes during the week.  The other person eventually transfered out, and I briefely considered it.   I also did not have any fashion sense, and I didn’t really have any desire to have it either.   I wore my jeans and t shirt combo just about every day.  By being a student at Colgate, I automatically recieved a J Crew cataloge in the mail every year.  Thats the sort of place Colgate was.  By not dressing or acting the part, I was never a part of the main student community.  I still had friends, and I had them from a variety of places like in high school, but in this case, moving from group to group ment I was never really a part of any of them, rather than being a part of all of them like I was in HS.  But, I’ll save Colgate for later, after all, Colgate day is coming up in a few days.  As a freshman, I took courses in education and  geology, and decided I wanted to be a geology major, and go on to become an earth science teacher.  Which is what I did.  My main group was the pep band, playing trombone was still a lot of fun, even if I wasn’t a great musician.  I also go to go to a lot of sporting events, which I loved.

After graduation, I wanted to begin my teaching career right away, rather than finish up my masters.  This way if I hated teaching, or wasn’t any good at it, I wouldn’t have lost as much.  I searched all over NY for jobs in earth science.  I didn’t want a school that was too rural, and I knew I didn’t want to be in one of the big cities, so my options were fewer, but I still was pretty busy with interviews.   At one job fair, I met the superintendant from Watertown, and we had a really good time talking together, and I was invited to make the 6 hour drive to formerly interview for the position.   The principal hated me within 5 minutes, and I never got called back.  I fell in love with the Downsville School District.  That town was so small that the mailing address for the school was PO Box J.  Unfortunatly, the school was too small, and I would need to be certified to teach multiple classes, which I wasn’t.  I had a few other good interviews around the state; Ellenville, Waterloo, Whitney Point.   But as I drove into Lake Luzerne for the first time, I knew it was the place I wanted to go.  My first interview went well enough that I was given a second interview later that day with the superintendant.  I spent some time exploring town, went to Glens Falls, and then had a very good second interview.  Nothing was finalized, but I was told I was on the short list, and to expect a call within the next few days.  I still had a few more interviews on the books, including one at Penn-Yan out on the Finger Lakes.  This was another great small town, and they offered me a job on the spot.  I waited to see the job offer I might get from Luzerne, and when that offer did come in, I made the decision that I would be moving to Queensbury to be the schools earth science teacher the following fall.

Teaching was always fun for me, though it took a few years to really find my groove and figure out exactly what I was supposed to do.  Over the next few years, I got my masters through the Suny Plattsburgh program at Adirondack Community college.  Once that was over, I had my evenings free to coach soccer and wrestling.  My main out of school socializing was through the local hockey team, and its booster club.  I had also met my future wife.  This will also get its own post, so here’s the short story.  My closest friend from Colgate went to Syracuse University for grad school.  There she met Mellissa, and she introduced us.  We dated long distance for three years, and then we decided to move in together.  It was either Syracuse or Glens Falls, and Glens Falls won due to it being easier for her to find work out here, and it making more sense for me to remain where I was.  We got engaged shortly after that, and a year later, got married on Lake George by the captain of the Adirondac.

This was also around the time I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Mellissa had been raised in the church, but was inactive since high school.  I actually had an interest in the church before I knew this, and I was the one to first bring it up.  I had been a dedicated Catholic all the way through college, but stopped attending once I moved out on my own.   I wanted to start going to church again once me and Mellissa wanted to start our family, and for the first time, it occurred to me that I could change churches.  During this time, the missionaries showed up at our doorstep, and the rest is history.  My first calling in the church was as a Sunday school teacher, and about a year later I became the Elders Quorum secretary.  Currently I am in the Young Mens presidency, which looks after the boys aged 12-17.  I teach a class on Sundays, and am the Scoutmaster for the churches Boy Scout troop.  About two years ago, my wife and I were sealed in the Boston Temple, thus beginning our eternal marriage.

At the start of 2010, we welcomed a daughter, Cassidy into our family.  She’s our cheerful little girl, who never ceases to amaze us with how fast shes growing and learning.  So that’s how we got here.   I’ll expand on a few of these topics in the coming weeks.  Comments are always appreciated.

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About garybraham

I grew up in Mahopac NY, studied geology at Colgate University. I've moved to Queensbury NY to teach HS earth science. I also coach soccer and wrestling, take pictures at local sporting events, and am the Scoutmaster for the Glens Falls ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My wife and I will be married 5 years this October, and we have a two and a half year old little girl.
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