“If you are risk averse, you will never know what your potential is,” said Beau Macksoud. “When you take calculated risks, you can really live abundantly.”
Beau Macksoud practices what he preaches. He lives large.
While an undergrad at Bard, Macksoud learned how transformative education could be and wanted to pursue a degree in education. But first, he had big plans in his head. “I wanted to get real-world experience first and bring that into the classroom,” he said. “I wanted to have some fun and see the world. When I graduated, I thought, ‘It’s on. I have to do as much crazy stuff as possible.’”
So he caught 500-lb. fish in deep waters working on a sportfishing charter, surfed Hawaii for a year, snowboarded in Vail for a season, and moved to Alaska. When the opportunity presented itself to visit Spain for four months, he signed up without understanding a word of Spanish. His four-month stint turned into five years. He earned his M.A. in Spanish at Middlebury language program in Madrid and published a book, Take a Hike; The Best 50 Routes in the Community of Madrid. In order to promote the book, he started a hiking company, which took groups on hiking tours of Spain. “This company was a great way to connect cultures, promote language exchange, keep active in the outdoors, and create community.,” he said. “I was always thinking: How can we create the best culture, the best experience? It’s a huge part of my mind always.”
Macksoud continued his quest to explore the world (90 countries and counting to date) and worked as a tour guide in 14 different Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil. “That job helped me understand the dynamics of a group, where you allow people to be individuals while being part of a team,” he said. “It’s a give and a take, and this experience happens every day at KO.” And just last summer Macksoud rode his bike cross country, imbuing in him a deep appreciation of the majesty and diversity of our country.
“I try to bring this sense of adventure into the classroom,” he said. “I try to create an environment of exploration and make learning relevant. Rather than just focus on vocabulary and tenses, I love student projects using what we’ve learned so that the language comes alive for them. I want them to understand that behind the language lie the richness of the culture and the people and to connect with that.”
For Macksoud, the classroom is a microcosm of the world, with each member contributing to the culture and beauty of the community. “Everyone has genius in them,” he said. “I treat each student individually and foster an environment of acceptance and support. Their success is personal to me.”