Hop Legend Eric Mueller Retires
When Eric Mueller frstwalked onto the Hopkins campus, he had no idea that it would be his home for the next forty years.
Since then, Mueller has done it all; from Dean of Students to Head Varsity Girls Lacrosse Coach to chairing the Art Department, the number of lives he touched is immeasurable. In the words of long-time friend and colleague Peter Ziou, “His [Mueller’s] retirement this spring will create a real void for me and surely for the Hopkins Community.”
Mueller grew up in Rye, New York, attended Kenyon College for his Bachelor’s Degree, and went on to Washington University in St. Louis for his Master of Fine Arts, never expected to land at Hopkins. Mueller refected, “I wrote a whole stack of letters and printed out my resume and sent it off to prep schools and really had the sense I would end up at a boarding school. I interviewed with Louise Reed, the Head of the Art Department and told her that I bake my own bread. That sealed the deal.”
During his frst year on The Hill, Mueller coached Boys JV Soccer, Girls Lacrosse and taught Fine Arts Ten, which no longer exists, to seventh graders. “The seventh graders almost killed me! I had never done any teaching and I had no real education courses, so I was really making it up as I went along,” commented Mueller.
In the next years, Mueller continued to take on more responsibility, adding Girls Varsity Volleyball and Boys Varsity Soccer to the list. He quickly fell in love with life on The Hill and kept coming back for more each year.
Over the years, Mueller’s passion for art and his creativity have inspired both his students and his colleagues. Ziou commented, “Eric would tell me that he goes into the woods and looks for broken trees and limbs, as well as metal waste, that he turns into objects of beauty and art. He could take wood from the forest and fnd a use for it in a way that's lyrical, artistic and beautiful.”
Mueller’s art student Melody Parker ‘19 agreed: “He’s such a knowledgeable, eccentric teacher. The amount of expertise he has in so many areas of art is astounding, and I admire his passion for all things art.”
Moreover Muller’s compassionate spirit and vibrant attitude have impacted all those who have had the pleasure of knowing him. Colleague Jacqueline LaBelle commented, “Watching how he goes about his day has taught me so much about how to treat people, how to juggle my day, and how to laugh at life. He’s a solid, positive presence who has an answer for everything - and not in a know-it-all kind of way - pragmatic, super creative, and caring.”
Head of School Kai Bynum agreed, “Eric is, without a doubt, one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and, by doing so, he helps me relax. Eric is also an example of how a single person can have a profound impact on many facets of school life. He has had pretty much every role on campus, and this experience gives him both the perspective and connection to use his voice wisely.”
Fine Arts Student Naomi Tomlin ‘19 agreed: “Mr. Mueller impacts me in the simplest but best way possible: every morning he lets me create, and he’s there for words of encouragement (or criticism) if I need them. He describes it as a Tim Gunn teaching style.”
On the athletic felds, Mueller’s impact has been equally signifcant. He coached Girls Varsity Lacrosse for over thirty-fve years, as well as boys soccer for many years on both on the Varsity and JV levels. Varsity Soccer player Bruno Moscarini ’19 remembered, “At his [Mueller’s] last game coaching after thirty-five years, the whole team circled around him to thank him for all that he had done, and Mr. Mueller started crying. It was a bittersweet moment but an appropriate testament to Mr. Mueller’s dedication, both to the school and to the hundreds of players he had coached.”
Moscarini ’19 continued, “I run into Mr. Mueller often, and have never seen him without a radiant smile on his face. He always inspires joy and forces a chuckle out of you, even through painful injuries and tough days. He has taught me the importance of approaching life in a positive manner and to try to fnd fun anywhere possible. Nonetheless, Mr. Mueller has also helped me to mature, treating me as an equal in a team full of seniors and calling me out when my attitude was flawed. I will miss him incorporating an element of fun into everything. I will miss seeing him around school every day.”
Though Mueller will miss “the energy of teenagers and warm social life at Hopkins,” he sees it as an opportunity to dive deeper into his own art. “We are really looking forward to this next phase. We already bought our house and are moving to Cape Cod. I’m going to get my clamming licence, I’m going to go sailing, and maybe do some boat building. I’ll have time now to really do some art work. I haven’t done a whole lot of stuff in the past few years. I dabble now and then, but I’m excited to try other art forms and fnd a new challenges. “Yeah, forty years. I guess that’s long enough, so go out at your peak!”