Meet Mr. Risley, History

Mr. Risley came to Middlesex in 2008 from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. A Boston native, Mr. Risley played soccer and ran track while earning his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University. He subsequently earned his M.A. in history, coached soccer at both BB&N and Northeastern University, and played professional soccer for five years. 

Whether you’re a new freshman or a seasoned teacher, losing your Middlesex planner, a cherished organizational tool, can be a terrifying experience.  “I once lost my planner for twenty four hours,” says history teacher Mr. Risley, “and I was freaking out.”  Considering his busy schedule, his reaction shouldn’t come as a surprise.  This fall, he is stretched between a full teaching schedule, coaching the boys’ varsity soccer team, and serving as Chairman of the Steering Committee for the School’s re-accreditation process, an extensive undertaking that occurs every ten years and takes two years to complete.  

“At this point in my career it’s truly great to still feel lucky, motivated, inspired, challenged and to feel like I am growing every year,” says Mr. Risley. “That’s what you would want out of a professional life—growth, connection, a sense of mission, and a sense of purpose.”

Former and current students speak highly of the experience in his class where Mr. Risley aims to teach every student to have a healthy skepticism about history. Says one former student, “He gave me all the tools to question history and all the confidence to argue why.” Indeed, Mr. Risley says, “It’s when the kids connect and click with each other and I’ll step back and have moments where my entire head tingles. It’s those times when students have a deep focus, all of them, and they share that moment. It’s in that moment you realize they just had a learning experience.”

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