Welcome to Conversations with Cavaliers. In this series, we get to know more about Cavaliers from all corners of our community: parents, students, faculty, staff, board members, and administration.
[Dr. Negus] Mr. Nugent aka The Nuge
[Mr. Nugent] Hello Dr. Negus.
You and your wife are both one of nine children. That is counter cultural. Did you belong to a cult?
She was not part of one. My family was almost part of one in New Mexico during the Y2K scare. My older brother, Keith, built a nuclear shelter 20 feet underground out of tires. He had 3-4 years of canned food and a water filtration system down there. It wasn’t a fundamentalist cult, but there are some weird people out west.
Mostly being homeschooled with that many siblings. It’s a Darwinian struggle for survival every day. I’m one of nine. There used to be 14.
If you had to have 27 children or none, which would you choose and why?
27, easily. My wife is beautiful and I’m good looking. We couldn’t mess that up. I wouldn’t want to not have any kids. Being part of a big family has more benefits than negatives.
What phrase did your parents use most often, and why?
There are two. My dad would always say “work that out.” Being a father of eight boys is like being Eisenhower during the Invasion of Normandy. That’s the job. What do you do? You tell your second in command to work that out. My dad said “work that out” more times that I can count. It’s on home videos. Fights would break out during filming home videos and you can hear him say it off camera.
What’s the other one?
My mom would routinely remind us that if you can’t get along with your brothers, you can’t get along with your friends. I thought that it was horrendous logic because my brothers were knuckleheads, and I had plenty of friends who I thought were better than my brothers.
I understand that you worked very hard at baseball in order to gain virtually meaningless statistics?
I learned that I was not as good as I thought that I was. I learned that you can dedicate a lot of time and physical effort, and you may not get anything lasting out of it. But, it’s still worth doing. I’m grateful for my teammates and my coach at Berry. If I hadn’t played, I wouldn’t have had those friendships. I learned many Big Lebowski quotes before I saw the movie.
Berry seems to be life-change and character forming. Why?
There are two reasons. Before going to college, I had no exposure to liberal arts. I would not read any books that would be in the classical canon. I read old books, such as “Carry on Mr. Bowditch.” I also read a lot of biographies: Faraday, Alcott, and others. I learned spots of American history. I didn’t read a lick of philosophy. Berry was transformative for me. I was made aware of my ignorance. The other reason was because of a few of my professors there, most notably the late Dr. Lawler and Thomas Kennedy who taught philosophy, religion, and politics.
What did you read that shaped you most?
Modern, ancient, and contemporary philosophers.
If you could make one change to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be and why? Don’t say anything that would make Colonel Lambert mad.
I would repeal the 17th amendment for direct election of senators. They should be elected by legislature.
That’s what I would have selected too!
It’s possible that you could die this week. What’s on your bucket list? And you can’t choose don’t die this week.
I would like to see a fair number of American cities. Chicago and Boston. I would like to take a tour of Europe and also see Jerusalem. I would like to go to the Somme, Verdun, and Normandy. Jerusalem is a recent interest. And Greece, too.
I went to the Holy Land at 16 with my family. Everyone should go.
Is it true that you are quitting to become a full-time Justin Timberlake impersonator?
My wife said that there would be too much travelling without her, so I decided that it wasn’t viable.
One more, Why Atlanta Classical Academy?
During my senior year of college, I proposed to my wife. I had five months until graduation and no job. I applied to teaching positions and had a few interviews. Then, Dr. Lawler contacted Dr. Moore and recommended me for a potential position. Dr. Moore and I spoke for almost two hours as he drove from Colorado. Then, Mr. Lambert, Mr. Kirby, and Dr. Moore talked to me for two more hours.
Later, Dr. Moore called and offered me the job. I hung up the phone, yelled in excitement, and freaked out. Friends came running to me and asked if I was ok. In speaking with Dr. Moore and Mr. Lambert, I realized that this place was special; it was different, I could take the education that transformed my life and bring it to kids in middle, primary, and high school. That was awesome!