Tom Gotsill was born and raised in New Jersey. He is a graduate of Seton Hall Prep, received his B.A. in English from Saint Anselm College (NH), and his M.A. in English from Seton Hall University.
Tom has been a high school and university teacher and basketball coach, an independent bookseller, essayist, playwright, and ukulele player; but it was his career as a basketball coach that drove his early career. After two county championships at Seton Hall, a North Jersey championship at Ridgefield Park, and three conference championships in his four years at Summit HS, he left New Jersey in 1981 to become Head Coach at Saint Anselm College.
Once he left coaching, Tom began to focus on teaching American literature as well as on the larger issue of educational reform. While serving as English Chair at Merrimack H.S. in New Hampshire, he developed the school’s core curriculum and later in the early ‘90’s presaged the charter school movement by initiating a rigorous, team-taught, interdisciplinary “school-within-a-school” known as The Jefferson Plan. His belief that developing critical intelligence and character ought to be the primary objectives of a good education led him to the development of both The Jefferson Plan and an elective philosophy course in the English department.
His core beliefs are expressed in his commitment to public education reform. In his role as a professional development presenter, graduate lecturer, and educational writer and consultant, he has advocated for an increased commitment to democracy and critical thinking through the inclusion of philosophy, ethics, character, and citizenship in public school curriculums.
After his retirement from full-time teaching, Tom served as a graduate lecturer in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University. Through three courses of his own design, he helped high school English teachers discover ways they could enhance their students’ critical thinking skills through the integration of both Western and Eastern philosophy in their existing literature programs and through the skillful design of interdisciplinary cours es. In the same spirit, Tom teaches a course called “Philosophy and Film” at the Academy for Lifelong Learning on Cape Cod.
In 2007, Tom created The New Enlightenment Institute for the Preservation and Advancement of Civil Democracy. The NEI was formed as a response to what he considers an endangered democracy. The Institute was inspired by the great ideas which gave rise to the Age of the Enlightenment and direction to America’s Founders. Its mission was “to strive to reduce ignorance and human conflict through the promotion of civil discourse on the power and necessity of human reason and ethical conduct.” The NEI sponsored Cape Lyceum, a monthly lecture series which featured guests with expertise in the arts, philosophy, culture, science, government, education, and history.
Tom has been the recipient of numerous grants / fellowships, has published short stories, op-eds, essays of literary criticism, and numerous articles on both basketball and educational reform. His first play, Final Exam, was performed at the prestigious Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Series in Greenwich, CT. His second play, To Be in the Game, won the Jeremiah Kaplan Award for best new play by Eventide Theatre Company, Cape Cod. He is the first playwright to be a repeat winner of the Kaplan Prize in 2018 with the selection of his play, Colonel of Reason. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Tom is the father of two daughters, Amy and Carrie, who each have two children. He lives on Cape Cod.