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Jim Frutchey
Excellence in Education

Known for his eloquent lectures and dry wit, Mr. Frutchey credits his eleventh-grade algebra teacher for instilling in him a passion for teaching and learning. He recalls, "One could not be in her classroom and avoid being swept up by her intense enthusiasm for her subject." Mr. Frutchey added, "The algebra I learned there has long been forgotten; the enthusiasm and love of learning for the sake of learning have not. Convey that enthusiasm and love to your students and you will have served them well." Jim Frutchey is a master educator who practiced this craft at North Attleboro HS for 34 years.

A graduate from Kalamazoo (Mich.) College in 1965 with a BA in History, Mr. Frutchey continued his studies at Brown University (1965-67), Rhode Island College (1970-71) and Boston University (1971-74), where he earned his M.Ed. He joined the NAHS History Department in 1969 after two years teaching Western Civilization and U.S. History at the Fletcher Preparatory School, Barrington, RI.

In addition to meeting his future wife, Martha, who had joined the NAHS faculty in 1967, Jim established a philosophy of education that served as his compass throughout his career. He realized early on that "teaching and learning are aspects of the same process. A good teacher has questions; a good student has answers. When that student is able to develop his/her own questions (and answer them), the teacher’s job is done." This dynamic was evident in all his classes, regardless of the course or level.

In the early years, Mr. Frutchey taught Western history, including ancient, medieval and modern, as well as a short-lived senior elective in Western Civ. He helped develop a new World History curriculum and taught U.S. History and Economics. In later years, he specialized in college-prep levels, including developing and introducing the A.P. American History sequence.

Mr. Frutchey was also a strong believer in "standards for everything that happens in the classroom—teacher behavior, student behavior, subject-matter content, academic achievement" etc. However, he emphasizes the fact that standards "can and will evolve. The point is that standards set the goals against which progress is measured." He cautions others: "Do not fall into the trap of making subject-matter coverage the only goal . . . The subject is the subject; what counts is what the teacher and his students do with it."

Jim found NAHS students easy to work with, and he holds his colleagues in high esteem. "I’ve always felt and continue to feel that NAHS has had more than its share of outstanding educators," he notes. He praises the leadership of our school system for having the "good sense to recruit good people and then get out of the way and let good people do good things." He also credits the faculty’s "strong sense of collegiality" and willingness to work as a team as a primary cause of the school’s success.

Jim’s eleventh-grade algebra teacher would be proud of the manner in which Mr. Frutchey carried on her legacy of inspired teaching and love of learning until his retirement in 2003. His profound influence on the history curriculum at NAHS is testament to his excellence in education.

Jim lives in Providence, RI with his wife, Martha, (a 2008 Excellence in Education Award recipient), and their two children, Elizabeth and Andrew. In addition to keeping himself busy with little jobs around the house and pursuing various hobbies, Mr. Frutchey spends his days as a volunteer with the Rhode Island Historical Society, and he gives tours at the John Brown House Museum one or two days a week.