Volunteer Keith Moon: Raising People Up
Keith Moon is a rock star on the Noble Horizons campus, consistently wowing his fans with his knowledge of Russian literature and history. For the past eight years, he’s been teaching in the Noble community, welcoming adult students from throughout the tri-state. Keith selects a new book each spring, facilitating lively discussions about literary works such as Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment as well as historical books, including Lenin’s Tomb and a biography of Mikhail Gorbachev.
When he’s not teaching at Noble, he’s a veteran instructor in all things Russian at The Hotchkiss School, where he’s been since 1989. (Keith has also taught Spanish, English, and History at Hotchkiss.) “This is my ninth spring teaching at Noble. I started in 2012 when Caroline (Burchfield) approached me to speak about Vladamir Putin’s re-election that year. I had just returned from a school trip to Russia and had taken part in a sanctioned anti-Putin demonstration there. She thought Noble residents might like to hear about it. And I thought, ‘Why not?’”
And so began his intellectual love affair with Noble students. Keith remembers, “When I taught Anna Karenina at Noble, I was simultaneously teaching it to Hotchkiss seniors. It was a magnificent gift to see this work through the eyes of two sets of seniors--one at 18 and the other at 70 or 80. I was amazed at how much I learned.”
That gratitude and giving spirit exemplify this extremely humble and accomplished teacher who is as open to learning from his students as they are from him. Occasionally, he jokes, they pose questions outside his field, “Some of the questions Noble students ask do a number on me. I always have to give a disclaimer that my expertise doesn't necessarily extend to China or international economics.” Luckily for Keith, with the collective wisdom in the room, someone invariably does know something about these fields, and Keith graciously welcomes these co-teaching moments.
He’s amazed and awed by individuals who attend his class each spring as his enrollment continues to rise. “I’m so grateful for the people who come on a beautiful spring day when they could be gardening or some other outdoor activity. I wish I could issue a diploma to the Noble students who have taken all of my classes--no matter what the content. It’s such a treat to see them back again each year,” Keith acknowledges.
Beyond his volunteering at Noble, Keith is extremely active in the Northwest Connecticut Special Olympics team. In 1994, he founded the annual Special Olympics Swimathon at the Hixon Pool at Hotchkiss. It’s been a fixture ever since, with the 25th annual Swimathon completed in November 2019. Working with the school’s Special Olympics Club, each year Hotchkiss students, faculty, and staff, along with members of the local community and the Special Olympians themselves, swim laps and raise funds to send the athletes from northwest Connecticut to the summer CT Special Olympics Games. “This year was our most successful Swimathon yet,” explains Keith proudly, “We raised $16,000 and had 247 swimmers.” In the fall, he also heads up the track and field day for athletes from all over Connecticut, including a new Region One Special Olympics team at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.
Each year he has become increasingly involved with the organization, and since 2014 he has served on the board of directors for Special Olympics Connecticut. “Any opportunity I get to spend with Special Olympic athletes is a great day. They are an amazing population of resilient, kind, and good people--and seeing them mix with our Hotchkiss students is so rewarding.”
These contributions are still not enough for Keith. He’s also in his second term as a member of the Salisbury Central School (SCS) Board of Education. “My wife, Bridget, and I are entirely grateful for the school. Both of our sons had remarkable experiences there. When you consider what makes this town special, most people will point to Salisbury Central. While it’s small, it’s also incredibly vibrant.” Even though his sons Peter and Stephen have long since left SCS, Keith still feels a willing duty to serve, “With no children in the school, I’m not influenced by what might be good for my kids. I can consider what’s good for all the children in our town.”
A common theme through Keith’s life is this: With his considerable talents, humility, humanity, gratitude, and a willingness to serve, he’s helping people explore their potential and raise their game, wherever they are in life.
Join Keith for his annual Russian book series beginning Saturday, April 25 at 2 pm via Zoom.
Hotchkiss School instructor Keith Moon returns with his annual Russian book series.