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Mike Quinn

The same year that Mrs. Dorothy Elkins began her illustrious career at Webb I was squirming my way
into being born in a Birmingham hospital. I spent my younger years in Northern Alabama where I gained
exposure to the civil rights movement through the sermons of preachers who celebrated a Holy cross on
Sundays and a burning one on others. My conundrum with this paradox turned out to be a continuing
influence on my perspectives.

After making it through high school in Smyrna, Tennessee I spent more years than necessary studying
art, biology, geology, and whatnot at a state university down the road. Then the good stuff started

Priscilla and I got married and had a couple of wild boys. Pris had the “good” job as a special education
elementary teacher and I watched the kids and held jobs with titles such as sewer man, stagehand,
ceramic dinosaur maker, and frolicking-puppet-making-singing-professor-sidekick for a local PBS kiddie
music show. Then we all moved to a Pacific Island for 6 years, not long enough. I worked for their
legislature, and we got to travel a bit. When we returned stateside our organically educated kids needed
a creative, nurturing, challenging and liberally educating environment. At that time this meant The Webb

During their first years at Webb, I helped out the Children’s Discovery House, taught as an adjunct at
MTSU, and attended craft fairs with the Dinosaur Dirt farm. Then came my lucky break when I weaseled
my way into employment at Webb!

My time at Webb was generously summed up by Rita Mitchell when I retired in 2022:

“...He began serving Webb as a science tutor and summer school science teacher. He and wife
Priscilla Van Tries had already chosen Webb for their sons, Ian ’02 and Parker ’04. He joined Webb
full-time in 1999 as an honors biology and chemistry teacher and later taught freshwater ecology,
anatomy and physiology and human biology before becoming a full-time upper school art instructor...

There were many reasons he remained at Webb for more than two decades.

“...the most meaningful experiences were the opportunities when the students and I were able
to share knowledge with each other and learn from each other. Not only in the classroom, but
being able to share in their performances in theater, Webbstock, Springfest, Coffeehouses,
sporting events, clubs (Fishing, Feet to Feet, Oracle, Diversity...), chapel programs,
celebrations, outdoor and international trips and marches and rallies toward the betterment of

Quinn found it difficult to note only a few highlights and enjoyable experiences in his career because
there are so many. But, he ranked his participation in 20+ Senior Survivals at the top of a long list. The
years of “Bob Roy and the Christmas Cookie” presentation was another highlight.

“...I also cherish the opportunities I had to share journeys with the students by leading trips to
China, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and especially
Cuba.” ...

I still get to help out with some of Webb’s WILD trips and will continue to help with Senior Survival as
long as my body holds out and Joe Griggs and Brian Wofford tolerate me. There are rumors that I might
be able to help out with a new rendition of the “Fishing Folks” in the fall.

In my post-Webb life I enjoy family and friends, especially grandchildren. Most of my time is spent
“managing a spot of land for wildlife habitat”. Occasionally I will try to make something resembling a
sculpture. In 2023 I took another fairy shrimp sculpture to Burning Man with my wife Priscilla and a
former student Lola Reyes (2022). Priscilla and I are returning to Burning Man in 2024 with another
former student, Jonathan Crambes (2016) to create a theme camp focusing on fairy shrimp. This whole

Burning Man opportunity was opened by the generosity of The Webb NETS Fund initiated by the Class
of 1967. I am eternally grateful for that.

I spend time walking around in the woods, lately in bewilderment at being named as a service award
recipient, while looking for things to pick up and eat. But what I really enjoy is just sitting outside and
waiting for visits, especially from former students and colleagues. So please come on out to Sassapaw
whenever you’re in the neighborhood and walk some trails with us!

Mike Quinn