The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

School Columnists

May 17, 2012

Retiring educator has passion for written word

AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP —  When a graduate of Grand River Academy breezes through college writing, or finds himself using words like “nefarious” or “maladroit” in conversation, they are very likely to cite Robert Archer for the exposure to those words. And with Mr. Archer’s retirement at the end of this year, a long standing chapter will close. The face of GRA is changing.

The head of the English Department, Robert Archer has enlightened Grand River Academy students for the past 22 years. However, he has been teaching for even longer. Before coming to the academy, Mr. Archer taught English, Advance Placement American history and biology at the Leysin American School in Switzerland; and English at the Alexandria County Day School in Virginia. With all of his knowledge and teaching experience, his value to the community is evident to everyone with whom he interacts.

“I have many wonderful and fun stories to share about Bob Archer,” said Allen Fritz, GRA 1988 alumnus, “but funny stories aside, he always dedicated himself to his work and challenged his students to expand their intellect.”

Mr. Archer and his wife Diane live in a beautifully restored century home in Jefferson that they acquired after they moved here from Alexandria, Va. The home was recently featured in the premier copy of Ashtabula Living. 

At the academy, Mr. Archer has taught history and American literature. He also coached the cross country team and was the adviser to several championship Academic Challenge teams. Mr. Archer is clearly passionate about his job, and it shows in his stories about the graduates who still keep in touch with him.

“My favorite part of this job is knowing that by educating young men, I am turning their lives around,” he said.

Mr. Archer loves his job because he can educate and prepare young men for college. Respectively, GRA students love Mr. Archer because he prepares them so well.

Graduating senior Tim Livolsi may well have spoken for any student who has ever studied under Mr. Archer when he said the following: “Mr. Archer taught me the principles of grammar and writing at a more sophisticated level. He molded me into a better writer than ever before. I’ve never had an English teacher as brilliant as Mr. Archer, and I hope that my professors in college will push me to the same intellectual limits.”

“Bob Archer has been a wonderful source of inspiration to me,” said fellow GRA English teacher, Sarah Mundie Carroll. “His suggestions on course content and presentation were invaluable when I was a beginning teacher, and I will always be grateful for his help. I've never met a person with a deeper well of knowledge for literature.”

Several other academy teachers who are nearing retirement have dedicated their entire careers to education. Larry Wilson, Robert Archer, Jed Trombley and headmaster Randy Blum have a combined 131 years of working at the academy; and all of them have made tremendous contributions to the institution.

Despite Mr. Archer’s retirement, we may not have seen the end of his passion for the written word. He has a fascination with anything involving railroads, even publishing a book in 1977 called “Lehigh Valley Railroad: The Route of the Black Diamond.”

“I’ve been exploring some old railroad stations. I believe I have another book in me.” he said with a smile.

We all look forward to it, Mr. Archer.


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