By: Riley Suszkiw
Walking around school, you may see a man of large stature with a long goatee and even longer hair. William Aldrich, the man behind the goatee, is much more than your average career and technical educator.
He’s a story teller. And he sure has some gems.
Like the one where he was at a soccer game and one of his close friends gets her wallet pickpocketed. In a quick act of courage, he runs down the thief and restrains him until UN soldiers show up.
Or the one about how he and some fellow Peace Corps members trekked through the Sahara Desert for several days in their Land Cruiser, being part of the “most quietest quiet” that he has ever experienced.
Or the time when he ran as fast as he could from an angry elephant while gunshots rang out behind him.
Or that one experience when he had to learn Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL) so that he could teach 462 deaf children in Ghana.
Or the one time when he celebrated his 26th birthday by running a full marathon.
And the list goes on…
Growing up, his father was in the Army which caused Aldrich and his family to move frequently. Born in Oklahoma, Aldrich lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Kansas, Germany, England, New Jersey all before settling in Maryland for the majority of his adult life.
Aldrich matriculated to Towson State, now Towson University, applied for the Peace Corps, and graduated with a degree in Art education. After one year of teaching experience, Aldrich was accepted into the Peace Corps and deployed to Ghana where he had to quickly adapt to lifestyle changes and life as an educator in another country. It was here where a number of Aldrich's adventures and stories take place.
Today, Aldrich is still just as fascinating as he was in the late 90’s. An avid gardener, Aldrich has a luscious garden where he plants just about everything you can think of.
But it’s his love of mushroom foraging that makes him quite unique.
A lost joy that he describes as “playing Where's Waldo in real life,” Aldrich spends a lot of his time wandering woods and state parks looking around for all sorts of mushrooms. Morels, a recent favorite of his, which grow for about 2-3 weeks a year, are very rare but “worth it.” According to Aldrich, they have an earthy taste and he plans to cut some in half and fill them with crab meat.
Aldrich is not just in it for the mushrooms. He finds “being outside is a privilege” and feels like “walking around in the woods is therapeutic. I might spend an entire day in the woods. There is always that thrill of, ‘there's one!’ It doesn’t get old.”
And if that’s not at all, in his not-teaching time, Aldrich is a woodworker and is getting back into metalworking.
Three years ago, Aldrich and fellow tech-ed teacher Nick Formica built canoes. They skillfully crafted the canoes in Glenelg’s workshops in a little over three weeks. They were 16-feet long and Aldrich’s had a viking-esque front. The canoe met an unfortunate end when Aldrich took it out on the Monocacy River. The water was so strong that it took over and slammed the canoe into some large rocks. The severe gash at the end of the canoe ruined any future uses, but the accomplishment from building the canoe was worth it, Aldrich said.
After never having spoken to him before, I realized that he is full of stories and that I was just scraping the outer layer. With the experiences he’s had, it is clear that he has lived a life of excitement, vigor, passion, and creativity.
Aldrich is a reminder that a lot of our teachers at Glenelg are more than just the person we see in front of a classroom.
They’re walking stories.
Sometimes we just have to ask.