Brian Purcell Continues a Family Legacy at SHS


William Larson

Brian Purcell joined the SHS faculty in February

Clara Adams, Contributing Writer

Although he joined the high school faculty halfway through the year, English teacher Brian Purcell has a family legacy at SHS. His wife Maureen Michaud (Class of 2003) and his mother-in-law Patricia McGrail (Class of 1973) are both SHS graduates. In addition, his wife’s grandfather, Stephen McGrail, taught chemistry and physics and served as the science department chair at SHS for 30 years. Nevertheless, Purcell said his family’s history with the school did not influence him–the job opened up, and he applied. 

Describing his own high school years as “great,” Purcell grew up on the Cape, where he attended Falmouth High School. As a senior, he decided he wanted to be a teacher, but he was discouraged from entering the field. Therefore, Purcell started college as a marine biology major. Eventually, he switched to education, earning his undergraduate degree at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and his graduate degree from Boston University, where he earned a master’s in curriculum and development. 

Certified in both history and English, Purcell has experience teaching both subjects at the middle school level. When asked which subject he prefers, Purcell answered, “They kind of overlap, so often you find yourself taking things from one class into the other.”

Referring to his prior experience teaching in a private school setting, Purcell jokingly stated, “Kids are kids, so that is pretty much the same.” He explained that the biggest difference is “more about the autonomy that teachers get.” Since private schools don’t administer standardized state tests, they use these types of assessments as “more of benchmarks.”

One of Purcell’s memorable experiences as a teacher is leading a week-long 7th-grade field trip to Washington, D.C. Purcell recalled the trip: “very funny, scary, but ultimately rewarding memories from that.” According to Purcell, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher is getting the chance to watch students grow up. 

Purcell is enjoying his classes and said learning students’ names again has been fun. Most of his previous experience has been teaching sophomores and juniors; therefore, teaching AP Literature to seniors has been an interesting challenge. Purcell also teaches two electives: Introduction to Journalism and Public Speaking. When asked what he likes most about teaching high school, he said being able to have adult conversations with his students.

Outside of the classroom, Purcell is an “avid” soccer player, and he used to be a high school soccer coach. He also enjoys surfing and fishing. Purcell and his wife have two sons, a one-year-old and a four-year-old, which limits the time he can spend on his hobbies and interests, but Purcell commented, “That’s all good.”