Rory Early

Over his 18-year tenure at the Academy, Rory Early’s responsibilities have expanded from custodial to his current role as a supervisory custodian. Last fall, he was happy to add an athletic assignment as the Academy’s varsity football defensive backs/wide receivers coach.

“I can go from doing something complex in the custodial space such as stripping and waxing a wood floor to breaking down film for one of our football players,” says Early, who grew up in Exeter and later attended Dillard University in New Orleans. “I’m a small part of educating our students, which includes exposing them to a diversity of perspectives. Now that I’m helping to coach, I know some of my philosophies and those of my previous coaches are added to the mix.”

“These students are remarkable,” Early continues. “Coming off a difficult winter, I would say 95 percent of the students who walked up the gym ramp while I was shoveling said, ‘Thank you!’ as they passed.”

Like any good coach or mentor, Early sees the big picture: “Harkness is about more than teaching facts; it’s about teaching life lessons. I think coaches see the fields and courts as extensions of the classroom. … When I’m asked questions by young students, they almost become an extension of my family. They’ve made coming to work for the last 18 years worthwhile. There’s really nothing I wouldn’t do for students here to make their experience a positive one. After all, this is their home.”

This story was excerpted from The Exeter Bulletin.