MOUNT DESERT — It’s a familiar story: Bright young people in small Maine towns go off to college and don’t come back, lured away by the prospect of greater opportunity elsewhere. So, their talents are lost to the communities that educated and nurtured them.
But there are exceptions.
Max Mason, who grew up in Mount Desert and was 2013 senior class president at MDI High School and a member of the National Honor Society, has returned home after flirting with a career in sport management. Last week, he started his new job as an ed tech at Mount Desert Elementary School, where his formal education began.
After high school, Mason went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he majored in sport management and economics.
“Baseball had always been a passion of mine, and I was fortunate enough to be a research assistant for a sport law professor who had a connection in the Baltimore Orioles front office,” Mason said.
As a result of that connection, he landed a summer internship in player development with the Orioles’ single-A affiliate, the Delmarva Shorebirds in Salisbury, Md.
“My responsibility was to do some video analysis and data analysis and work with the coaching staff and players on improvements they could make,” Mason said.
After graduating from UMass, he took a job as a player development assistant in the Orioles organization, working primarily with the triple-A Norfolk (Va.) Tides. He went with the team to all of their away games.
“The travel isn’t as glorious as it might appear,” he said. “There were several bus trips and flights where I had time to reflect. And I thought, ‘Is this who I am? Is this what I want to be doing?’ And there was a point where it hit me that this is not who I am.
“It’s a great experience, and I’m so happy to have the opportunity,” he continued. “But at the core of my beliefs and values, I’d rather be in education.”
After leaving his baseball job this past September, he spent a few months working on a farm in Palmer, Alaska. He made that connection through an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which pairs people who are willing to work for food and a place to sleep with farms that need help.
“That was a way for me to hit the reset button, to truly figure out where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing and to reprioritize my life,” Mason said.
“I had time to look for openings [in education] and talk to people I trust, and that’s how I ended up back in this community.”
Asked if he aspires to be a teacher or to have some other job in education, he said, “Right now, I’m just focused on the short-term, which is to rely on the incredible community that Mount Desert is and just to learn and grow.”
As for what he likes about being an ed tech, he said, “It’s very fulfilling and rewarding to see the [students’] growth.”
And he said it’s nice to be back at the school where he ran track and cross-country for the Mustangs, played baseball and basketball, and played in the jazz band.