As he steps out of his cozy home in Castleton, Jonathon Scott takes a deep breath of the fresh Vermont air. Just another ordinary day for everyone else is farthest from ordinary for Jon, because to him everyday is special.
On his way to his car, he passes his 12 chickens frolicking around the gothic chicken house that he built for his beloved wife, Marie.
“In my spare time, Marie always has 101 projects for me. I love to do it though. I wanted to put stained glass in the gothic chicken house, but she wouldn’t let me,” said Scott.
Along with being a husband and father to his five children, Scott is the chair of the art department and teaches art and architectural history at Castleton State College. But Scott isn’t just a part of the art department, Scott could very well BE the art department.
“When we first got here, we tried to start an art history program. Jon built that thing up from the bottom so now we offer seven sections of different kinds of art history. What looked like a hopeless cause is now a big deal,” said art colleague and close friend Bill Ramage.
Before Scott arrived at Castleton 25 years ago, there were only three students in the entire art history program. It was a great difference from the class of 320 he previously taught at the University of Mexico.
“Art history was nothing here. I’m proud to say it grew and grew and I have been here to help it,” said Scott, who actually owned his own carpentry business prior to teaching.
Scott’s intense interest in the history of art is driven from his own personal experiences.
“I love being in Jon Scott’s class because he shows us his own pictures and has had his own experiences. It makes learning that much more interesting,” said senior art student Jessica Perkins.
Scott has an intense desire to travel and deepen his knowledge of other cultures.
“Marie and I have been on four European trips and many trips in this country,” said Scott. “I usually have purposes and places to go. I love going to sacred sites and learning about what makes them sacred.”
One of those sacred places was the Sacred Island of Iona in Scotland. It was a place Scott and his wife had always wanted to go to and to this day, the trip is still vivid in his memory.
“At first we didn’t think we could afford it, but then Marie said we really have to do this and we had the most amazing time,” said Scott. “For two weeks after we returned I kept waking up and thinking I was still in Scotland. I don’t know what kind of psychic stirrings there are in each of us when we go to a place that speaks to us in some way, but that was Scotland for me.”
Scott is still a devoted traveler and admits he wants those kinds of experiences for his own kids.
“I want what Marie and I have for my children. You need a companion,” he said.
But Scott had to go through a few of his own struggles before he met the love of his life. He ended up getting a girl pregnant at the age of 21 when attending Amherst College in Massachusetts.
“I actually got accepted into Harvard and Middlebury, but decided that wasn’t for me. My dad was a little disappointed about that,” said Scott.
He ended up marrying 19-year-old Penny and they had their son, Jonny. It was a rough and quick marriage for the young lovers and they eventually got a divorce.
“The minute my son was born, we both absolutely adored him. But my ex-wife Penny, you know, it was just too much for her and she was too young. We got a divorce and I raised Jonny,” said Scott.
Scott then moved back to Martha’s Vineyard, where he was from, to raise his son. That’s where he met Marie.
“I had barely known Marie when she was young, but after my first marriage, I met her again as if for the first time. With Marie, my life has new purpose,” said Scott.
Together they raised their five children, Johnny, Malia, Josh, Andrea, and Nathaniel -and a wide variety of pets.
“I’ve always had pets, I just love animals. We’ve had chickens, dogs, and cats,” said Scott.
Unfortunately, Scott and his family went through some heartbreak this past June when their beloved dog, Giotto, passed away suddenly.
“We miss him so much. I think we will get another dog, but we’re still recovering and we’re not quite ready. We just really miss him,” said Scott.
Giotto was a very special dog. He would join Scott in the classroom when teaching his students about art history. He would even take him on field trips with the class.
“We all got to know Giotto. I met him my freshman year at Castleton. He made everyone feel more at ease since we were all new students and didn’t know anyone,” said former CSC student Travis Hudson.
Scott resides in Castleton, just a mile away from the college. All of his children are full-grown and he is now blessed with nine grandchildren.
“My life has always been so busy and sometimes you have to leave things behind for the ones you care about,” said Scott. “I used to be in a band, I played guitar and sang. Now, I think I’m going to start singing to my grandchildren, just little folk songs, I love doing that.”
He also wants to get better at the piano when he retires after this semester.
“I have two years left of just part-time, so I will be around. But I really want to devote more time to the piano. I can play it by ear. I’m no good at sight reading,” said Scott. “Yeah, I think I want to play the piano now.”
Scott has been at Castleton for exactly 25 years, just what he wanted. His departure, though, colleagues say, will leave a hole.
“He is so effective, both personally and professionally. He is one of the friendliest people you would ever meet. We do all kinds of things together. I’m really going to miss him,” said Ramage.