Jeffrey Barrett Small ´85: “Before I speak, my words pass through three gates: truth, kindness and necessity.”

Jeff Small

It is always a pleasure chatting with Hyde Alumnus Jeffrey Barrett Small ´85! Jeff came back to Hyde School last June to present his graduation speech. His story and love for Hyde have stuck with us. After attending Hyde, Jeff went to California for school and then joined the United States Marine Corps. Jeff continued to master a multitude of construction skills and began his biggest job, being a dad. Jeff reflects on his time at Hyde and gives advice to current students in his interview below. Thank you for your time and your service to our country, Jeff!

Describe your career path.
I left Hyde and spent two years attending a community college in California while working as a cook at Fuddruckers. I then went into the Marines. I have spent most of my career doing all forms of construction (test borings, masonry, pipefitting, landscaping, CNC operator, logging and other miscellaneous construction jobs). I have always longed to be a wrestling coach. I would do that for free! I want to be the wrestling coach at Hyde someday.

Which word or principle has stayed with you the most?
All the Hyde school principles have stayed with me throughout my life. The day I left my parents and went to Hyde my mother hugged me goodbye and told me the most profound and powerful statement (which was also printed in Reader’s Digest “Quotable Quotes”)! This is what she said to me and this is how I strive to live my life.

My expectations for you do not exceed my own, nor do they surpass yours. For when you lay your head down at night to sleep, if you can say, ‘Today I was the best that I could be,’ you will find happiness. For self-disappointment will steal your sleep and rob your happiness more than any of life’s disappointments.

I embrace all of Hyde’s principles: COURAGE when I was in the Marines in battle, and CONCERN and LEADERSHIP when I faced the tedious task of raising my son alone from when he was two years old. I realized then that children pay more attention to what you do, not what you say. My son, Jesse, is now in the Marines and lives his life with the principles I have instilled in him. He strives to be the best version of himself.

CURIOSITY and INTEGRITY are hand-in-hand in my life. In order to be my best version of myself, I diligently seek out the truth in all matters. Before I speak, my words pass through three gates: truth, kindness, and necessity!

Which teacher(s) had an impact on you?
Nina Jones
had a profound impact on me during and after Hyde School. She opened my eyes to racism and sexual inequality. It has given me empathy and understanding. Gary Kent was my wrestling coach, teacher, and mentor. He taught me the most about integrity and how to strive to be true to your own unique potential.

What advice might you give to a Hyde student?
This is difficult to say. Each student is unique and different in personality and goals. I guess I would tell them to always strive to be the best version of themselves, whoever or whatever that may be.