ABOUT MR. LIPPI was born on January 3, 1961 in New Haven, Connecticut, where I lived until I was about 9. Just before I entered fifth grade, we moved to North Branford, Connecticut, a small rural community just a few miles outside of New Haven (everything in Connecticut is a "few miles" from everything else in Connecticut!). I graduated 5th in my class from North Branford High School in 1978. I was also actively involved in theatre, chorus, and band (tuba and later, bass clarinet) in high school, a sign of things to come. I credit my love of teaching to Mrs. Joyce Manzo, my high school Biology teacher, with whom I still communicate through cards at Christmas time. My dad, who had been working for the University of New Haven, got a job at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida, so we relocated to Jacksonville in 1981. At this time I was attending Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut - some of the best years of my life. I was a Biology major at Trinity, but I was also very active in the Concert Chorale, a madrigal-singing octet called Timbrel, and theatre. During my years at Trinity, I also served as a teaching assistant in a number of classes, including Biology I and II, Cell Biology, and Vertebrate Zoology, which certainly increased my love for teaching, and did some laboratory research in developmental endocrinology. I graduated from Trinity with a B.S. in Biology in 1982 and was accepted into and entered the Ph.D. program in Molecular Biology at Vanderbilt University that year.
I wasn't really happy at Vanderbilt - I liked the school and Nashville, but I discovered that my real love was not in research. I found that the "eat, sleep, do research, and repeat" life was not for me and I really missed having the time to be involved in the arts. Fortunately part of the graduate student life was to act as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses, mine were Immunology and Molecular Biology. I had passed my Ph.D. oral and written qualifying exams and was officially a Ph.D. candidate by 1984, with dissertation research in the field of T-cell immunology and development. But I had a big decision to make - probably one of the biggest in my life - I wanted to teach, not do research, and I knew I had at least 2 or 3 more years at Vanderbilt before getting the Doctorate. I'm not one to take risks or not complete what I start, but I made the decision to write a thesis for a Master's Degree in Molecular Biology and move on. It was a very tough personal move for me, but it is one I have never regretted. In 1984, I graduated from Vanderbilt with a Master of Science degree and headed to my new home in Jacksonville, Florida.
I lived with my parents for a short time in Jacksonville while looking for a job, but thanks to a wonderful friend of my family, a job teaching Chemistry and Earth Science (two of my least favorite subjects :-) became available at Englewood High School. I moved out on my own into the Arlington area of town and was now in a classroom full-time. The first year was quite difficult - the kids were a bit rough and I was only five or six years older than they were. But I held my own and found that teaching was certainly my calling. The following year a marvelous thing happened, a new public magnet high school for the arts opened in Jacksonville - Douglas Anderson School of the Arts - and I was hired as one of the charter faculty members (and Science Department Chairman in only my second year of teaching!) for this wonderful school. I would continue teaching at DASOTA for the next 14 years - I taught virtually all the available science classes and also had the opportunity to teach an Introduction to Theatre class and the Musical Theatre class (in which I created the school's first Musical Theatre touring troupe). At Douglas Anderson I served in many other positions as well - Public Relations Director, Student Activities Director, Technology Contact, Yearbook Advisor, Thespians Sponsor, just to name a few. During those years I also was involved in many county activities, including writing science curricula and standardized tests and writing for, teaching on, hosting a weekly public TV science educational program called "Hotline Science," and moderating some of the county's televised "Brain Brawl" matches.
1985 was a year of happiness for me starting at DA, but it was also a year of great sadness as well. On the Monday of Thanksgiving week, 1985, my father died suddenly at home due to heart failure - at the age of 48. I was never as close to my father as I should have been, though our relationship was never strained, and I hope now that somewhere he's watching me and is proud of the man I've become. My mother, who also lives in Jacksonville, and I are very close and I am thankful every day for her continual and unconditional love, encouragement, and guidance. I have one younger brother as well, who is also a high school teacher and lives in South Carolina with his wife, and our relationship has grown stronger over the years into one of mutual respect.
In 1998, I had begun to become "burned out" on teaching and had become more and more interested in computers. I accepted a position as a Coordinator for the Student Information Management System for the public school system in Duval County and went to work in my first "administrative" position. The SIMS department is responsible for maintaining the student information database for the county, and my job was primarily one of school support (with just a little bit of programming on the side). During this time and during my previous years at Douglas Anderson, I had also been teaching on and off as an adjunct professor for local universities - the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, and Florida Junior College (now Florida Community College of Jacksonville). After nearly two years, I found myself yearning for the classroom again and it was a call I could not resist. So in the fall of 2000, I happily returned to the classroom as a Physics instructor for Paxon School for Advanced Studies, a public magnet high school for academically-gifted students. By the end of my first year at Paxon, my principal approached me and asked if I would serve as the school's new International Baccalaureate Coordinator and Magnet Lead Teacher, in addition to my role as one of the school's Technology Contacts. Soon, I was given the opportunity to return to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, once again teaching Physics. And although I was happy and content at Paxon, I went "home" beginning in the Fall of 2003. At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, I finally decided to retire from public education after 33 years and began a new career teaching in the Science and Math faculties at the prestigious Bolles School in Jacksonville.
Well ... if I haven't bored you - I have yet to really talk about the true passions in my life - theatre and music. When I moved to Jacksonville in 1984, I became involved in a small community theatre group called Players by-the-Sea in Jacksonville Beach. My first role was playing the young writer in their production of Deathtrap, and two years later they gave me the opportunity to direct my first production, the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which was a tremendous success. Over the next 30 years, I have directed and performed in most of the area's community theatres - including Theatre Jacksonville, Players by-the-Sea, Jacksonville Actor's Theatre, Limelight Theatre, 5 & Dime, Oasis Theatre Project, Jacksonville University, and the FSCJ Artist Series/Wilson Center's Summer Musical Theatre Experience. If you're interested, my theatre résumé is on this website. As you will probably be able to tell from my website, I am also a musical theatre fanatic and absolutely love Broadway show tunes - particularly those by Stephen Sondheim. In my spare time, I love film (though I'm very picky - you can look here for some of my favorite films), writing, arts performances, reading, "alone time," dining out, shopping (but only occasionally :-), working on the computer, and traveling. I wish I could travel more (especially in Europe), but as a theatre/music person and a teacher, it's hard to find the time or the money!
Well, I guess you've heard enough about me ... I currently live in the Deerwood/Tinseltown area with the "princess," my Black Lab-Hound mix, Annabelle, spend my days at The Bolles School, or you might find me behind and on the stages of Jacksonville. But, most important of all, I cherish the love, support, and friendship of my family and friends.
And here's a "hello" or two from Ms. Annabelle!!