Speaking with Episcopal’s own Micheal Posey makes you yearn to live your dreams to learn new languages and experience the world. He makes linguistics sound adventurous, and like a secret portal to new cultures and ways of life. He can communicate to varying degrees in nine languages. Ni hao. Buenos dias. Hellorr!
He’s a passport-stamping world traveler, a would-be scuba diver and has completed a FULL-marathon. But did you know he was once on a TV game show or that he owned an egg roll restaurant inspired by his mother’s recipes?
It’s really no surprise to those who know him that Micheal is an avid learner and traveler. He says his mom tells him he was always adventurous. There are stories of a young Micheal running up and down the aisles of an airplane. As a child he also proudly accepted a set of wings from a co-pilot. As an adult, he has challenged himself to visit all Spanish-speaking countries. So far, he has traveled to approximately 18. He’s challenged himself to visit all 50 states. He’s already checked 46 off of his list. He’s hiked the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru. He’s perfectly balanced an egg on its end on the equator in Ecuador. He’s stood before the Eiffel Tower in wonder. “Once you see Paris, it’s hard to go back,” he says.
Like any explorer, Micheal knows that travel requires flexibility and quick reactions. He has certainly experienced his share of comical mishaps. He has been content and relaxed on a flight only to have that shattered as the flight crew announces the descent into a completely different airport. Rerouted flight? Emergency landing? No, Micheal had simply boarded the wrong plane and traveled to the wrong destination! However, he took it in stride and the mistake simply meant an unexpected night in an unplanned location. When learning to scuba dive in Mexico, his tank ran out of oxygen. This born communicator and language aficionado struggled with not having words to express his need for air. He didn’t panic, and he was able to tap into the dive instructor’s tank and eventually surface safely.
Micheal’s openness to adventure has also made it possible for unexpected rewards. Thinking quickly once earned him a trip to Hawaii and San Francisco after appearing on the TV show “Let’s Make a Deal.” Imagine Micheal dressed in a physician costume with his friend by his side dressed as a nurse. To his shock and surprise, Micheal was singled out from the audience to answer a question about the proximity of two destinations. He answered correctly and both trips were his!
In addition to being a traveler, Micheal is also a foodie. In fact, he was a restaurateur at one point in his life. Inspired by their mother’s cooking, Micheal and his brother opened an egg roll shop in Richmond, Virginia. Mae Khan Egg Rolls featured unique creations such as the TexMex or Philly cheesesteak egg roll. Micheal’s love of food is a perfect complement to his love of travel. As he logs the miles, he is always open to trying local delicacies, whether it’s snails in France, alpaca in Peru, corn fungus in Mexico or even crickets and grasshoppers. “An open mind means an open palette,” he says.
“Learning takes me from adventure to adventure,” says Micheal. “I know a little about a lot of things.” One of Micheal’s favorite topics to explore is language. As he learns terms and phrases, he often tries to determine how the same meaning would be expressed in another language. For example, he notices that the nuisance of referring to a simple chair in either a male or female form has meaning in some languages. He ponders the implications of languages such as Vietnamese being devoid of subjunctives. He also enjoys learning the latest teenage expressions and their unexpected meanings. Being an Upper School teacher allows him to stay current and in touch with student references. “I can relate to students through it,” he says. “It keeps me young. I like to share a lot, but I learn from my students.” Micheal loves teaching. He encourages an open and relaxed classroom environment in which ideas are shared and thoughts converge. “I’m not trying to teach you what you can find through a quick Google search,” he says. “We’re here to learn and we’ll do it in a friendly environment that provokes thought and we’ll see where it goes.”
With all of this, Micheal still finds ample time for professional development. He has attended three National Endowment of the Humanities Institutes and was awarded a teaching grant from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. He has even explored cybersecurity and earned a Google Educator Certification (Level 2). He serves as the long-time editor of PRIMA, a newsletter distributed by the American Classical League and has leadership roles with state and national classical and foreign language teachers’ organizations.
If there was an Indiana Jones of philology, Micheal Posey would be it, even if he doesn’t think of himself that way. “I’m usually boring,” he says with a grin. “My superpower is teaching.” What better way for students to learn a new language than from someone who finds language so alive and inspiring? Micheal’s global treks allow him to fully experience the world and bring those lessons back to the classroom. We are glad he is sharing his superpower with us.