This article was first published in the 2018 issue of Hamptonia.
Many alumni speak of an entrepreneurial spirit they attribute to their New Hampton School experience. “Taking risks,” “standing out,” “not being afraid to fail,” are phrases often used to describe the confidence and character New Hampton School builds in our alumni. Following their New Hampton experience, Mike Gleason ’96 (and former ASP faculty), and Jon Shackett, former Biology teacher, both called upon these character traits to pursue new professional goals, digging into a passion to see if it could become a career. Both men, respectively, have successfully turned a weekend hobby of brewing beer into a full-time profession.
A 1996 graduate of New Hampton School, Gleason returned to campus after graduating from Lynchburg College to work in the Academic Support Program, serve as a coach and house parent. This provided an opportunity for Gleason to connect with students and give back to a place that had a positive impact on him. “After graduating from NHS, I was so appreciative of what the school gave me that I wanted to give back.” With two years teaching under his belt, Mike moved to Colorado where he continued in the same field and began making his own home brews (some better than others) on weekends.
After 4 years of brewing his own beer, a career change was in store and Gleason was ready to take a “New Hampton risk” that his time as a student encouraged him to make. Trading in papers and pencil sharpening for on-the-ground experience in the field, Gleason found himself in Fitchburg, Massachusetts volunteering his time for a local brewery that could not afford to pay him — now the famous Jack’s Abby Brewery. “For about 6 months, I was the shadow of the Owner/Brewer learning everything I could about running a production brewery.” Gleason’s risk and patience paid off as business grew and so, too, did his title. Gleason now resides as the Head Brewer for Jack’s Abby Brewery, located in Framingham, MA. In his role today, Gleason oversees all operations of the brewhouse from maintenance, inventory, ordering and recipe writing to other day-today needs.
Jon Shackett spent a number of years as part of the faculty, living on campus, coaching and advising. Alongside teaching, his passions led him to start brewing his own beer. “I began home brewing in 1992. I visited a friend from college who was brewing beer and was immediately hooked. It combined my interests in science and art with my love for fermented beverages.” After spending years trying new recipes and tinkering with different formulas, Shackett opened his first brewing location for the public in nearby Bristol, New Hampshire in 2014.
Due to increasing demand and lack of space, Shackett began asking himself what was next: keep things the way they were, or run with the momentum? After 10 years teaching at New Hampton School, it was time to make brewing beer a full-time job. With an appreciation for community, Shackett wanted to keep things local and was thrilled to find a new location in downtown Bristol where he could see increased foot traffic and have ample space to hone his craft. Shackett’s Brewery opened in the spring of 2018. Guests also love the selection of games on hand, ranging from cards to Connect 4 and shuffleboard.