The Circle Voice

A Farewell to Familiar Faces: Departing Faculty

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A Farewell to Familiar Faces: Departing Faculty

Ms. Van Gelder works with a student.

Ms. Van Gelder works with a student.

Jack Sperling '22

Ms. Van Gelder works with a student.

Jack Sperling '22

Jack Sperling '22

Ms. Van Gelder works with a student.

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As the end of the school year approaches, the Groton community will bid farewell to fourteen faculty members. Two are heading off on year-long sabbaticals, five are moving on from the Circle, and six will be retiring. They will be missed by colleagues and students alike.

Physics intern Sonia Cwik described her year at Groton as a “fun and rewarding experience.” She enjoyed coaching cross country and track, especially watching athletes improve throughout a season. As a lower school affiliate, Ms. Cwik got to know the third-formers and prefects in Spring’s dorm well, and one of her fondest memories of the year is the surprise birthday party that they threw for her. Reflecting on her time on the Circle, Ms. Cwik said, “I am going to miss the great people I’ve been able to meet this year, proximity to some nice running trails, and the ability to talk to colleagues and students about things other than physics.” Next year, she will be starting a physics PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Computer science teacher Julia Kelly is leaving Groton after four years on the Circle. She has loved interacting with energetic students and coaching girls junior varsity crew. When asked about what she will miss most, Ms. Kelly replied, “my advisees, my colleagues, and all my students. It really is the people who make a community, and I will miss the Groton community a lot.” Upon her departure, Ms. Kelly will begin work involving Structured English Immersion (SEI), a method for rapidly teaching English, to help non-native speakers that are learning English. Next year, she will teach computer science at Middlesex Community College.

William “Bill” Maguire started teaching at Groton as a computer science teacher in the fall of 1985. After thirty-three years, he is retiring after a year-long sabbatical. He is grateful to have taught bright, hard-working students alongside brilliant faculty. After spending the fall of his sabbatical in Galway City, Ireland, he is spending the rest of his year planning the move away from Groton.

Director of Theater Laurie Sales will leave for a sabbatical after ten years at Groton. Reflecting on her favorite moments on the Circle, she listed her Public Speaking class, running Sales’s dorm, her five global education trips to Kenya, and the plays Equus, Cabaret and A Raisin in the Sun. During her sabbatical, she and her family are taking a trip around the world –– visiting Australia, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, the Mediterranean, and Iceland. She is excited to pen a book about her experiences through the eyes of her two children, but is upset about missing the current Fifth Form’s Prize Day.

Elizabeth “Beth” Van Gelder has enjoyed teaching art at Groton for the past 39 years and is looking forward to her retirement. Some of her favorite memories have been the community’s many cultural celebrations, including MLK Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, and Dia de Los Muertos. In particular, she fondly recalls a masked dance workshop that a Balinese masked dancer did with her third form Visual Studies class in 1994. Ms. Van Gelder will miss serving as the curator of various Brodigan Gallery exhibitions. After leaving Groton, she plans on travelling, creating an art studio, and working and volunteering in areas related to education. English teacher and Groton Community Engagement leader Jonathan Freeman-Coppadge, commonly known as Mr. FC, moved to Groton about five years ago to be near his husband, who is completing a doctoral program. After Darren Freeman-Coppadge finishes his doctorate, they will move back to Maryland with their son Langston. Mr. FC will be teaching English at Severn School, a private day school. Reflecting on his Groton experience, Mr. FC says that he will especially miss his relationships with advisees, as well as his time working with the English department. He said, “I want to thank the entire community for making this place home for the past five years.”

After 21 years on the Circle, history teacher Tommy Lamont will be leaving for his second sabbatical. A dedicated teacher, coach, and musician, Mr. Lamont has enjoyed forming deep ties with students, parents, and faculty both in and outside of the classroom. Next year, Mr. Lamont hopes to go on road trips across the country and to catch up with friends and family. In the spring, he plans on travelling to Europe for two months to experience firsthand some of the various cultures of the world.

Stephen Marchand is retiring after serving as Groton’s librarian for 14 years. His favorite moments on the Circle include teaching research skills to students in World and the West and United States History classes. Next year, he will be embarking on a trip to Spain, and possibly France, where he hopes to immerse himself in the culture and language. In the summer months, Mr. Marchand will be completing a medical interpreting course. He said that he will miss the community and appreciates what it has meant to him during this time on the Circle.

Lauren O’Connell is leaving after a six-year career as a math teacher at Groton. She has loved coaching sports teams, such as girls junior varsity hockey. Next year, she will be moving to Seattle with her husband, and teaching math at Seattle Academy, a private school. As she prepares to say goodbye, Ms. O’Connell wants to thank the community for acting as a real home and giving her room to grow as a teacher.

Jonathan “Jon” Choate will retire after graduating from and teaching math at Groton for fifty-two years. A renowned teacher, advisor, and football coach, Mr. Choate was honored at the recent Alumni Weekend for his contributions to the school, and received a standing ovation for his farewell Chapel Talk. He has five grandchildren that live near Groton, and he plans on visiting them often with his free time. Additionally, he intends write a book regarding third-dimensional geometry and take part in activities ranging from attending cooking schools to travelling.

Latin intern Matthew Reichelt came to the Circle this year as a substitute for Andy Reyes while he was on sabbatical. While his stay has been brief, he fondly recalls many experiences, such as coaching boys cross country and track. Next year, Mr. Reichelt will continue his teaching career in the classics department at Taft School. He is grateful to have been part of a small, tight-knit community.

Michelle Brito graduated from Groton in 2002 and came back to the Circle to work in the admissions office this year. She said, “I certainly learned a lot about the student selection process as well as all the work that it takes to make the school run successfully.” Ms. Brito appreciated getting to know many of her former teachers in a new light as friends. After she departs from the Circle, she will work in secondary school placement at Bement School, a K-9 junior boarding school in Massachusetts. She will miss the people that she has come to rely on personally and professionally, as well as her advisees.

Renounced archaeologist and scholar Hugh Sackett will also be departing after serving as a beloved teacher and dorm head on the Circle since 1955. Mr. Sackett has worked under seven of the eight Groton headmasters, starting with the Rev. Jack Crocker.

All in all, the School is going to be losing many familiar faces, and their contributions to the school will not be forgotten. Best of luck to the departing faculty!

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