Williamstown history teacher to be on 'Jeopardy'
WILLIAMSTOWN -- A history teacher at Buxton School in Williamstown is a contestant in "Jeopardy" for episodes that begin taping today.
Williamstown resident Timothy Shuker-Haines is in Los Angeles this week for a taping of the fourth edition of the "Jeopardy Teachers Tournament." The show likely will air the week of Nov. 11.
The journey to the tournament began about 18 months ago, the 54-year-old said via phone from a hotel in Universal City, Calif. Shuker-Haines saw a publicity announcement about the tournament and took a quiz on the show's website, as did about 100,000 other teachers.
"On and off, I'd watch the show, thinking, ‘I know that,'" Shuker-Haines said. "I took the online test because I thought it would be fun."
In the fall of 2012, he was invited to the second phase of the competition: An audition, interview and mock game play in Boston. About 3,000 other teachers around the country went through similar auditions.
In August, he was notified that he would appear in the teachers tournament. Now it's down to 15 teachers for the final three rounds.
The winner will receive $100,000 and a spot on the show's Tournament of Champions.
Five episodes will be taped today, Shuker-Haines said. From those shows, nine teachers will advance -- five with the best scores and four with the best monetary scores. Three episodes of semifinals will tape Wednesday, and the three finalists will tape two final episodes on Thursday.
"I'm nervous and a little intimidated," Shuker-Haines said. "It's a mystery. We'll see how it goes. I just don't know what it will be like."
When he returns home from California later this week, he is not allowed to reveal the results of the tournament until it airs.
He emphasized that he knows it will be tougher being on the show than sitting at home shouting answers at the TV screen.
"If I know the answer and I can't get to the buzzer in time, that will be very frustrating," Shuker-Haines said.
However it turns out, he said, at the very least "this is an adventure of a lifetime, and we get a little national attention for the school, so that will be nice. But it does add a little extra pressure."
When he gets introduced on the show, a five-second clip of his co-workers and students at Buxton School will be aired, Shuker-Haines said. Buxton is a private, college-preparatory school for grades 9-12 on South Street.
Pete Smith, director of Buxton School, said the school community is rooting for Shuker-Haines.
"He's not a guy that blows his own horn -- he's a humble guy," Smith said. "But he's a very smart man with the capacity for remembering information that I find stunning."
Smith noted that Shuker-Haines has taught a variety of subjects at the boarding school, which has about 90 students and 20 teachers. Subjects he has taught include history, economics, comparative religion, the Mideast, globalization, and the history of film.
"He has diverse talents, and a penchant for remembering both useful and useless information," Smith said. "He has a sort of archivist's mind, and that should serve him well."
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