Michael N. Landis
B.A. English, University of Massachusetts at Boston, MA
Besides teaching at Mount Snow Academy–with a few breaks–for the past quarter century, I’ve also facilitated monthly meetings of the Brattleboro Great Books Discussion Group for the same length of time. From 1988 to 1990 I attended the graduate program at Saint John’s College, in Annapolis, MD, from which I received, in 1990, an M.A. in the Great Books of Western Civilization.
From 1986 to 2006–again with a few breaks–I worked in a variety of positions at a homeless shelter, Morningside House (now Groundworks Collaborative) in Brattleboro, VT. Before then, I was an administrator at the University Without Walls (a special program for older, non-traditional students) at U.Mass/Amherst. Before then I was literary secretary to Elie Wiesel at Boston University’s School of Theology. I received a B.A. in English from U.Mass/Boston in 1972.
In 1991 I married to Leslie L. Kinney, a program manager for the United Arc in Franklin County, MA. We have two daughters: Daphne, who received an M.A. from Clark University, in Worcester, and now works there as a researcher, and Dorothy, who is a junior at the Rubinstein School of Natural Resources at UVM.
Over the past 55+ years I have visited Cuba many times. During my most memorable, in 1969-70, I spent three months participating in the sugar harvest. During that trip, along with 7 other Americans, I spent the day cutting cane with Fidel, having dinner with him that evening, and listened to him respond to our questions for many hours deep into the night. During previous and subsequent trips I’ve explored much of the island, made many friends and gradually improved–but never perfected–my Spanish. Other memorable experiences include hiking up to Fidel’s old mountain headquarters in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, speaking only Spanish and going far off the tourist track for months at a time and taking the “tren frances” on a 925 km./17 hr. odyssey from Santiago de Cuba to Habana in 2012.
During the past decade I have been trying to finish reading Will and Ariel Durant’s massive 11-volume opus The Story of Civilization. I’m only up to Vol. 5, “The Reformation.” While it took the Durants a lifetime to research and write these volumes, I would be happy just to finish reading them before that inevitable event (besides paying taxes) occurs!