Jay Sweet, a member of the Brookwood Class of 1984 and graduate of Brookwood's Teacher Training program, is the Director of Newport Festivals, which includes the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival. Widely credited with the Festivals' revitalization, Jay returned to campus in May to speak with Brookwood students about his education, career and life path.
Following a meet and greet coffee with Brookwood parents, Jay participated in a "fireside" chat interview in the School Meeting House with the entire Upper School. He then met with small groups of students in grades six, seven and eight music classes.
"Jay connected immediately with the students. They 'lit up' when he asked about what music they listened to and as he spoke about working with professional musicians in the many festivals he has directed," reflects Debbie Gantt, Performing Arts Coordinator. "Jay brought a perspective that we often hear echoed in graduation speeches across the country: 'Find your passion. Be brave and take risks in pursuing your dreams and aspirations.' It certainly worked for him."
Debbie adds that Jay also shared candidly with the students his struggle to be passionate about academic subjects in school; he discovered in high school that delving deep into music was what he as "all about." "Students were fascinated hearing about his journey from high tape "DJ" to working on the magazine PASTE, and now director of Newport RI festivals. Jay was able to speak to every question about the music business and artists in the industry. As a music educator, I was thrilled that Jay came back to Brookwood and share his love of music and the music industry. We are so lucky that our alums stay committed to Brookwood School."
Jay's recent visit is part of the Alumni Mentor program, which brings graduates back to campus to share their experiences and inspire rising classes of Brookwood students.
"Our entire community was impacted by Jay's visit," reflects Eliza Cowan '95, the Director of Parent and ALumni Relations who is spearheading the Alumni Mentor Program. "He was introduced at School Meeting, participated in music classes, engaged in a parent coffee, was part of our Personal Growth and Development program, met with Head of School Laura Caron and finished his day with alum friend, Gwen Dumont and Assistant Head of School Barb Liston. This was a kick off to many more events like this in the future, and we look for broader ways to bring our Brookwood graduates."