Andrew Brescia of Peterborough figuring out life after retirement

  • Andrew Brescia and student Mukhtar Amiry in a two-week class Brescia offered called “Game of Drones.” —PHOTO COURTESY JONATHAN GOTLIB/LAWRENCE ACADEMY

  • Andrew Brescia tapes his ESL students’ “graduation speeches”  —PHOTO COURTESY JONATHAN GOTLIB/LAWRENCE ACADEMY

  • Andrew Brescia shakes the hand of Conor Caccivio, who he coached in cross-country, at graduation in 2019. —PHOTO COURTESY JON CHASE/LAWRENCE ACADEMY

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/20/2023 12:26:47 PM

Since retiring from his teaching position at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., in June 2022, Andrew Brescia of Peterborough has been spending his retirement reading, playing pickleball, working on projects around the house and discovering what the next chapter of his life will entail.

He hopes to continue writing, and is working on a collection of vignettes about his time selling Kirby vacuum cleaners for about a year in the late 1990s. Having grown up in Afghanistan for part of his childhood, Brescia also has considered the idea of tutoring Afghan refugees in English as a Second Language, and he’s trying to figure out a way to sell his famous shortbread. 

He has had more time to travel and has enjoyed spending quality time with his wife and family. Inspired by Mary Catherine Bateson’s book, “Composing a Life” Brescia said he is searching for his own way to do that.

“As teachers, we spend our lives out of balance while trying to teach students to keep their lives in balance,” he said, and after 40 years of working in schools, he’s enjoying the change of pace. 

Brescia canvassed for the Democrats in the fall and has been brainstorming big projects in the future. He and his wife have three sons, and the youngest is on the autism spectrum. They have talked about opening a residential facility and activity center for high-functioning adults with disabilities in Peterborough. 

Brescia started at Lawrence Academy 22 years ago as the school’s communications and publications director and then moved to teaching ESL classes to international students for the last 12 years, but his career in education was much longer than that. 

Brescia taught English at Johnsbury Academy and McCallie School, chaired the English departments at Dublin School and Columbus Academy and taught eighth grade at South Meadow School for a year. 

From the time he was a sophomore in high school, he knew he wanted to be a teacher. Brescia’s father was a foreign service officer and Brescia grew up abroad. He lived in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  His father had overseen a literature program overseas, and as a teenager Brescia had thought he’d wanted to teach abroad, so when the opportunity arose for Brescia to move from his communication role to a position teaching ESL, he was interested. 

Brescia set a high bar in his classes.

“I think I probably held students to too high a standard,” he said. But he also believe “kids appreciate honesty.” 

When students graduated from Brescia’s ESL class, he asked them to prepare a “graduation” speech. The students were to write and read a prepared speech about the international student experience. 

The speeches incorporated storytelling, descriptive writing and public speaking. Brescia invited some faculty and the previous year’s ESL graduates. He said it gave faculty insight into international students’ lives and gave students an opportunity to share a personal, sometimes difficult story. 

“Some were just fantastic,” Brescia said. “There have been some that have really been hard. They were speaking from personal experience, not dodging the hurt.”

Brescia has stayed in contact with some students, and has seen students succeed. He’s currently reading a biography of former President Abraham Lincoln biography written by a past student. 

In addition to teaching, over the years Brescia coached cross-country, girls tennis, wrestling and track and field. 

“Things happen during practice that can’t be duplicated anywhere else,” he said. 

Brescia also said he learned how important it is for teachers to listen. At Columbus Academy, he started duct-taping his mouth shut so he wouldn’t insert himself into student conversation in the classroom. 

“If you teach kids the art of conversation then they will surprise you every time,” he said, “Someone will utter something that will blow you away.”

A few years ago Brescia was grading in the language department and lost track of the time. A student opened the door and asked if he was coming to class. When he arrived, they’d already started the conversation and had written on the board.

“They thought I was testing them. I walked in flabbergasted,” Brescia said. 

The current communications and publications director at Lawrence Academy, John Bishop, said of Brescia, “[Students] knew exactly what they needed to do and exactly what he expected of  them. He expected their best.”

Bishop admired Brescia’s motivation and the amount he cared.

“He was all in every day until he decided he couldn’t be,” Bishop said. 

And Bishop said Brescia will be missed at school.

“I certainly sometimes wish the door would open up and he’d come in,” he said.


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