“Once-in-a-Generation” Mr. Ames

Students and Colleagues Thank Social Studies Teacher

Muntara Singh, Chief Editor

Mr. Ames poses with a book he reads under an American flag in his classroom
Mr. Ames with a recent read in his classroom

Described as “truly passionate” and impactful, social studies teacher Max Ames leaves an indelible mark on his students. A 2011 Morgan graduate himself, Mr. Ames learned from several teachers still at Morgan today, including members of the English, social studies, math, and science departments. During his high school years, he was an inquisitive learner involved in Amnesty International and the medieval sword fighting club, a precursor to today’s storied fencing team. 

As an educator, he teaches US History to freshmen and World History to sophomores. Most notably, however, is his pioneering work in taking on Morgan’s newest course offering: African American/Black and Puerto Rican/Latino (AABPL) Studies. In addition to its novelty at this school, it is new to Connecticut as the result of a recent bill requiring high schools to offer the elective in classrooms across the state. Nevertheless, Mr. Ames embraced the challenge and taught the unprecedented subject to multiple classes.

Mr. Ames graduated from The Morgan School in the Class of 2011

Outside of the classroom, he is the advisor for Morgan’s High School Bowl team and is known for the friendships he fostered with colleagues. Said English teacher Eric Peterson on Mr. Ames’ passion for the Beatles: “He had impeccable taste in music.”

Students expressed their disappointment that future Huskies would not have the privilege to learn from him. Teachers, too, offered their compliments to Mr. Ames as a student and as a colleague. “I will always be that AP US History teacher in awe of one of the brightest and kindest minds I will ever have the privilege to behold,” gushed social studies teacher Diana Rizzo. She added tearfully, “Morgan, old and new, will always be Max’s home.”

Below are a few highlights from students’ and teachers’ outpouring of support for Mr. Ames. 

“Not as many teachers are as truly passionate as Mr. Ames. You can tell that he really enjoys sharing knowledge with his students. Beyond knowing most things about history and everything about the Beatles, he always has a good piece of wisdom to share. During the stress of college application season, he reminded us that no matter where we end up we’ll have experiences that make us who we are and meet people we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives. His positivity and passion for learning show that he was meant to be a teacher and I’m glad he got to be my teacher.”

– Leah Vath, AABPL student

“Mr. Ames is always able to brighten up the room even when everybody in there is feeling down. I have him for Advisory so I’m there every week, and he always makes me happy.”

– Ainsleigh Landino, Advisory student

“Mr. Ames took on a big responsibility in talking about subjects that many people may or may not want to talk about and for that I think he is a very admirable person. He has become one of my favorite history teachers, and I’m upset that future Morgan students won’t be able to experience him.”

– Abel Rodriguez, AABPL student

“Honestly, he was my favorite teacher I’ve ever had. He actually made me feel comfortable coming into high school. He made me want to go to school; he made me excited to learn. Socializing is a lot easier with him, so I’m sad to see him go.”

– Hunter Mancini, World History student

“Mr. Ames had a huge impact on my education at Morgan. I had him sophomore year for World History and that was personally my favorite class because of the topics and Mr. Ames! He made the class fun and engaging. I’m sad to see him go but I wish him luck in the future.”

– Aurora Smith, AABPL student

“I remember Mr. Ames in my biology honors class. He did a great job; he’s actually pretty quiet. I was so excited to see that he started to show up and shadow Mrs. Rizzo. He’s just such a bright, intelligent, passionate teacher and I will miss him tremendously. Our little inside joke, I would just see him and I would say, ‘Maximus.’ Great guy and I wish him the best of luck.”

– assistant principal Chris Luther

“Mr. Ames was an excellent student, one of the best students I ever had in English 9. I remember we went on a field trip to an Ethiopian restaurant in New Haven. He is an excellent teacher, very curious and creative. He had good relationships with his students just like when he was a student and had good relationships with his teachers. It is disappointing that he will no longer be at The Morgan School because he’s such a great educator and a great person. He offered a helping hand to the Social Justice Club during our Human Rights Day celebration.”

– English teacher Leslie Chausse

“Mr. Ames only worked a year before [I arrived at Morgan] but he had already developed such a relationship with the students whether it’s through the Ski Club or through the [High School Bowl]. The students always want to talk to him about different topics. He put time and energy and passion into developing new curriculum and new courses. He truly, truly cares about what he does. On top of that, he’s just a great person. I got to go on the ski trip with him. I got to spend hours sitting on a frozen chair, riding up and down the mountain and it was never a dull moment talking to Max Ames. He’s a great guy; I’m looking forward to being one of his ‘former colleagues’ and staying in touch as the years go on.”

– English teacher Eric Peterson

“Mr. Ames was a dedicated history student when I had him way back in 9th grade and has shown that dedication to his Morgan students for the last three years. He will be missed by his colleagues in the history department but more importantly, will be missed by his many students whom he has positively affected in his time here. His students enjoyed him as a teacher and mentor. I wish Mr. Ames the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

– social studies teacher Chris Zawadski

“It is a rare and beautiful thing for a teacher to witness the growth and progress of her past history student. Max entered my classroom at the old Morgan School with that signature smile on his face. He challenged himself by taking one of the most rigorous courses at the school, Advanced Placement United States History. Of course, he rocked the class. Max showed up on my classroom doorstep once again when he became my student teacher. Roles were now reversed and I was delighted to bestow some teacherly wisdom on him. The students loved Max. Max is, above all, an intellect, but he was able to take that knowledge and make connections so that students could understand and apply it to their own lives. His classroom, fittingly, was situated next to mine; it was a joy to see Max flourish and make an everlasting impact on his students.”

– social studies teacher Diana Rizzo

Mr. Ames was a member of the High School Bowl team during his time at Morgan

“Mr. Ames was an exceptional student, a smart guy, very creative; he’s still very creative, which is why he’s the amazing teacher he is. So when he decided to become a teacher that was amazing. When he got a job here, I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s destiny.’ As great as he was as a student, he’s an even greater teacher. As I watched him evolve as a teacher, I had no doubt that he’s a once-in-a-generation teacher. I feel that strongly about his skills. If I was a betting man, which I’m not because I’m a Data Science teacher, I would put all my money on him being Teacher of the Year someday. He is such a talent that only comes around every few decades. He’s an engaging teacher but knows his content really well. Even my daughter has him in advisory and loves him. He’s got great cultural knowledge. I’ll miss him terribly. There’s a lot of talent in the school, so him being a new person on that list is one of the highest compliments I can give him. I would love my kids to have him as a teacher. He will be a huge loss to the Morgan community. It’ll take a long time to replace him.” 

– math teacher John Madura

“I remember [Mr. Ames] as part of my High School Bowl team. He was extremely knowledgeable. He just has great knowledge of every topic on the planet and he was a super positive leader. I really remember him for that. Having worked with him for the last two years has been great. He’s a very nice young man and he’s a very hard worker. I’m sad to see him go.”

– Spanish teacher Laura Luther