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Tufts E-News --Making The Switch: Tufts Grad Gives Up Dentistry For Teaching

Tufts E-News --Making The Switch: Tufts Grad Gives Up Dentistry For TeachingAfter a successful career as a dentist, double Jumbo Jeffrey Meropol is trying his hand at something new: teaching secondary school.

Boston [11.21.05] To his students, Jeffrey Meropol is “Doc,” a nickname borrowed from his past life when the Tufts graduate owned and operated a successful dental practice in the suburban Boston area. The dentist-turned-secondary-school-teacher told The Boston Globe that he had always hoped to explore more than one career path during the course of his life. Four years ago, at age 50, that’s just what he did.

“This, to me, was the time,” Meropol, who was recently profiled in the Globe’s “Transitions” section, told the newspaper. “I was still young enough to start something else.”

For Meropol, that “something else” was teaching. He sold his general family dentistry practice in 2000, took a summer “boot camp” training course for new teachers shortly after, and hit the classroom as a full-time chemistry teacher in 2001.

“I’d been thinking about it a lot and finally said to myself, ‘I’m gonna make this change,’” he told the Globe.

But Meropol, who now works at The Rivers School in Weston, Mass., didn’t always have his sights set on the front of the classroom. In fact, after a brief stint as a substitute teacher in 1973, right after he graduated from Tufts, Meropol swore off the idea altogether.

“Years later, I realized what a horrible teacher I was,” Meropol recalled to the Globe. “I had just turned 22, and I knew this was not for me.”

According to the newspaper, Meropol’s trial run as a teacher after college was only to pass time before he began attending the Tufts School of Dental Medicine. The engineering major had decided to become a dentist when he was an undergraduate engineering major; he even became president of the Tufts Pre-Dental Society to prepare.

Meropol graduated from the Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1976 and went to work worked for a year in the public health field in Virginia, “primarily treating children in a poor strip-mining area,” he told the Globe.

Eventually, the New Jersey native returned to the Boston area where he started a family and opened his own practice, which blossomed during the 1980s and 1990s, the newspaper reported.

Financially stable from years of prudent investing and feeling an itch to make a change, Meropol sold his practice and began searching for his next professional endeavor. A basketball coaching job at the private school his kids attended eventually evolved into the full-time teaching position he holds today.

“I just love being around kids. Plus I knew I could be near my own kids,” Meropol explained to the Globe.

At The Rivers School, Meropol currently coaches sports during three seasons and teaches several courses, including chemistry, anatomy and ethics in science. He credits his wife, a veteran teacher, with inspiring him to make the career switch, according to the Globe. She has a passion for her profession that is both inspiring and contagious, Meropol explained to the newspaper. Now he does, too.

“I just enjoy it so much,” Meropol told the Globe. “I see this as something I can do for a long time.”


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