The highest purpose of education is to help us fulfill our purpose in society; here, Bob has been an educator, in this deepest sense, in the school community at large. He had more a choreography than a methodology in class, teeming with energy, moving around the classroom, pausing at the more "arresting" quotations and ideas, crouching and gazing in the distance to evaluate some new category up close, turning slowly to individual students to invite them to weigh in….and he also sought to cultivate harmony and universal respect within the school itself.
—Dan McLellan ’84
Bob is a fantastic teacher and mentor. It is hard to convince teenagers that you are on their side while giving sound advice. I speak a foreign language every day at work, and I might not have been able to do so without the confidence, study skills, and curiosity about language that I learned in Bob’s French class.
—Eric Kosinski ’97
Bob was a dynamic French teacher and so full of humor and joy, but he also invited me to serve as a counselor at the camp he started in Minnesota for hearing-impaired kids. It was my first time away from home, and it was so challenging, empowering, and just incredibly fun! I will always be so grateful to him for inspiring me and giving me that opportunity. Few teachers bring it like Bob did.
—Jeremy Creelan ’87
I once submitted a self-indulgent essay in French class, complaining in my adolescent way about the disappointments of growing up and realizing one's own limitations. Bob wrote in the margin: "Mais on peut toujours prendre plaisir.” In English, “But we can always have fun.” I often think of that excellent advice.
—Jared Wunsch ’89
I asked Mr. Vollrath to be my advisor quite randomly... It turned out to be one of the best choices of my time at Commonwealth. Mr. Vollrath always offered invaluable counsel and spurred me on through those teenage years with great kindness, for which I am deeply grateful. I remember many bright moments shared with Mr. Vollrath and a fellow advisee over plates of soup dumplings in Chinatown.
—Jay Husson ’13
Bob will forever be entwined with images of Hancock in my mind. I see him hanging out in the dining hall, wearing his old school Commonwealth jacket, the one that says “Bobby” on the sleeve. Hancock under Bob has run like a well-oiled machine. His meticulous attention to detail in the planning stages, weeks (even months) ahead of time, and his close work with the faculty and staff means that by the time we’re scheduled to transport the entire school away for a long weekend in the woods the whole thing looks effortless. That’s not to say there isn’t sometimes a disastrous meal, a trip to the ER, or a bat in a cabin, but there is Bob, calm and collected in his jacket, helping to smooth things over. It’s not going to be the same without him.
—Rebecca Jackman, Assistant Head of School