Saturday, May 08, 2021

Person of the Week

Finding Ways to Make a Difference

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In 2019, John May joined the Clinton Economic Development Commission and the former teacher has helped hone its focus on generating opportunities for youth entering the manufacturing fields. Photo courtesy of John May

In 2019, John May joined the Clinton Economic Development Commission and the former teacher has helped hone its focus on generating opportunities for youth entering the manufacturing fields. (Photo courtesy of John May )

From a recent political campaign to working with the town’s Economic Development Commission (EDC), John May is a name that people in Clinton are getting used to hearing regularly. How John got to Clinton is anything but a typical story.

It’s 1996 and John May is set to move to Spain after a stint hosting an overnight talk show in Alabama. There’s just one hiccup: John doesn’t know any Spanish. That small fact didn’t stop John from going and having what he calls “an amazing experience.”

While in Spain, he lived in Pamplona in an apartment that overlooked the running of the bulls each July. To support himself, John got a job in teaching English to Spanish children while he himself learned Spanish. Eventually John’s work paid off so that he became a director at the school.

“It was actually very interesting, I was teaching both American English and British English, which are actually quite different even if we don’t pick up on it,” John says.

In addition to learning another language, John met the woman who would become his wife, Sarah, also a teacher in the school.

Following their time in Spain, John and Sarah moved to Georgia, but the couple began to miss the coast and the change of seasons. They began to look for teaching jobs elsewhere in the county and eventually found some in Connecticut.

“We moved up here sight unseen. Clinton just checked all the boxes,” John says. “We were looking to buy a house on the shoreline and fell in love with the community here.”

The couple has lived in Clinton since 2010.

Eventually, John wanted to get more involved with the town and when an opening on EDC appeared in early 2019 John leapt at the chance. The EDC works to promote businesses already in Clinton, as well as attracting new businesses to town. John saw the group as a way to help give back to the community.

“It’s a great bunch of people, very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, which is a big boon for Clinton,” he says.

One key area that John enjoys focusing on is an EDC initiative geared toward getting Clinton students educated in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and showing them how those interests can lead to fulfilling careers. To do this, EDC has been partnering with the manufacturing companies in the town.

“It’s been great to get involved and getting to meet people of different backgrounds that come together for the betterment of Clinton,” John says.

In fall 2020, John announced his candidacy for state representative in District 35 as a member of the Green Party. Though he didn’t win the race, John calls his experience running a win because he says he met many people on the campaign who agreed with him on issues that affect young people in the state.

John says raising awareness of those issues is important beyond winning the race.

John received a degree in political science and says, “I’ve always been involved in politics. I was a high school teacher for many years and I felt it was a way to get involved in something that will make a difference for kids’ lives.”

Making a difference in people’s lives is something John has done for years through his work in two different fields. John was an AP Spanish teacher for several years in Milford upon moving to Connecticut, where he says he enjoyed watching his students learn new things, especially later in the year.

“I like seeing people learn something new and different especially if it was something they struggled with at first then got good at it later,” John says.

However, about three years ago John decided to go in a different direction.

“The best way to describe what I do is I’m now a green financial advisor,” John describes.

John says he helps people invest their money in places that share his client’s values whether that be in ways that protect the environment or promote better lifestyle choices. John says there is a lot of similarity in this job and in teaching.

“The way no two kids are cookie cutter, no two people here are the same. We all have different ideas and values,” John says.

John says he tells people to “invest in the change they want to see in the world” and that his favorite part of the job is finding new ways to help people make the right choice for them.

In his spare time John can be found jogging, hiking, and traveling around New England with his wife and daughter Rebecca as well as further exploring the trails and sights in Clinton.

“I still consider myself a newcomer around here,” John says.

 


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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