This story originally appeared in the spring/summer 2019 issue of Harker Magazine.
Ask a middle school student or colleague to sum up Cyrus Merrill in a few words and you might get “laughter,” “enthusiasm,” “energy” or, most likely, “Hawaiian shirts!” It may come as no surprise to learn he was his college’s mascot (a big blue sagehen). Merrillteaches grade 8 U.S. History and coordinates the grades 5-12 Future Problem Solving clubs, and is known for crafting engaging and humorous lessons. He says his 2-year-old daughter helps him remember that simple joys and laughter may be found in seemingly insignificant things. It’s clear from his chat with Harker Magazine that this enthusiasm for life and adventure runs through everything he does and shines on the students lucky enough to be in his classes.
What would constitute a perfect day for you?
A day where my students were incredibly enthusiastic and took an idea I gave them to another level. I love the question, “Can I do this other thing instead … and here is why?”
What is an experience you’ve had that few others have experienced?
I was once shipwrecked on a freighter off the coast of Madagascar.
For what are you most proud of yourself?
I gave up a fellowship to Cambridge and instead somehow found the patience to sit for days on end sculpting rocks in Zimbabwe. I have the sculptures at home to remind me.
What is the best compliment someone can give you?
“Thank you … you made me believe and convinced me something was possible.”
What is your most treasured memory?
Finding dinosaur bones at age 10 with my geology professor father and his close paleontologist friend (who happened to make his biggest discovery – now on display – that very day).