Shore employees were honored at the annual “Night of Celebration” on May 4. Around 150 guests gathered in the Trustey Family Theatre for the hallowed Shore tradition recognizing the accomplishments, milestones, and departures of faculty and staff.
During her welcoming remarks, Head of School Clair Ward said that the celebration is a “reflection of how the school values the importance of longevity and experience.” The dedication of Shore families and employees was clear, with attendance from numerous families of alumni and past employees including former Head of School Larry Griffin and former Chief Financial Officer Bobbi Whiting.
Another example of longevity is Shore’s emphasis on the connection that exists between ongoing professional growth and the student experience. This year it was exemplified through the continued education and academic achievement of Ceramics Teacher Alexa Smith who received her Masters of Arts in Teaching from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in December 2022.
Head of Lower School Sara Knox was then called to the stage to recognize Shore’s Teaching Assistants for their dedication and support of students. Those acknowledged were Emily Bouchard, Heather Chick, Kylie Cointot, Allison Ferdinand, Weller Henderson, Steven Kennedy, Courtney Miranda, Skylar Seligman, Abby Suchocki, and Sasha Valliere.
From there, employees with five years of service were celebrated including Katie Hinkle, Upper School Mathematics and Science Teacher; and Jocelyn Norris, Director of Auxiliary Programs. Ward spoke to the mark that they each are making on Shore, as well as their dedication and commitment to students.
Employees who had reached a 10 year milestone were then individually recognized, beginning with Upper School English Teacher and Department Chair Louis Frank who is departing Shore in June. When he moved from the Grade 5 classroom to his current position, he was charged with rebuilding the English department’s approach to teaching and learning to be in better alignment with the E&I Commitment statement.
Ward said that in his 10 years at Shore, Frank not only “rose to the occasion, but also went on to do purposeful work in partnering with administrators to strengthen our community.” Frank fostered increased student agency at the Harkness table, and helped students to be activists outside of the classroom, all of which Ward noted is a display of “equity leadership in a complex world.”
Also celebrating 10 years of service and her last at Shore, was School Counselor Katie Hertz. “It is a daunting task to capture the impact that Katie Hertz has had on the students, employees and families of Shore,” said Ward. While there are many visible impacts that Hertz has had on the community like her ‘Lunch Bunch’ sessions for students, and her mental health curriculum work within the newly installed LIFE Seminar, there is more that not all can see. “Much of the work that Katie does includes holding our community as a whole during some of our most desperate moments,” said Ward. “We cling to her reservoir of calm when we are supporting a family after the death of a caregiver. We hang on her every word when we are creating a care plan for a student struggling to come to school due to a mental health challenge. And many of us seek her out when the emotion of school becomes too much for us as adults. Over 90 adults and just under 400 students in any given year count on her wisdom, her kindness, and her care.”
Upper School Innovation Specialist Cam McNall was the third employee to be honored for 10 years of service. Shore’s “resident engineer, math whiz, outdoorsman, and builder,” Ward shared an anecdote from when McNall and Lower School Innovation Specialist Jill Codding were planning to take the Innovation Lab and technology to the next level. “It was Cam’s vision that got us from dreaming to actualization and put those incredible tools into the very hands of our students,” said Ward. McNall is regularly partnering with students and advocating for their needs in order to ensure their success. Most recently, McNall mentored a group of students through the process of building Shore’s first ever Gaga Ball pit. From overnight trips to theater help and general cheerleading, McNall’s persistence is all for the benefit of Shore students. “Thank you for 10 years of your full heart,” said Ward. “We appreciate your can-do attitude.”
The evening then transitioned to honor employees with 20 years of service. The first to be called to the stage was Nancy Keaton, the Assistant to the Director of Food Service. “For 20 years, Nancy Keaton has done anything that needs to be done at Shore,” Ward said. Keaton’s kindness and care for the community was noted in Ward’s remarks, as well as a poem entitled “The Cake I’d Bake For You” that was recited to further emphasize her grace and love for the community. “If we could bake a cake for you, love would be its main ingredient, and our deep devotion would be the icing on top,” said Ward. “Nancy, you are every bit the walking version of Shore’s Community Code. Thank you for caring for all of us, and thank you for your loyalty to each and every Shore child.”
Also celebrating a 20 year anniversary was History Department Chair and Teacher Gwen Sneeden. Ward’s remarks centered around Sneeden’s commitment to the discussion-based model of teaching and standing beside her students as they wrestle with the sometimes difficult themes of history. Ward pointed out a few important guidelines to the Harkness method that Sneeden elegantly upholds. They included 1. asking clarifying questions and offering perspective to pursue meaning, 2. connecting one's responses to previous comments and learning, and 3. the overall goal for everyone to participate. Ward went on to share how Sneeden “used questions to express curiosity and perspective without judging” in their own relationship not only as co-workers, but from their educator-parent relationship. "Gwen Sneeden is far more than a master teacher,” said Ward. “She is a loyal and inspiring mentor willing to go the distance with anyone who will have her in the journey of learning and life.”
The next milestone to be honored was 25 years with Lower School Innovation Specialist Jill Codding, Shore’s own “tinkerer, inventor, experimenter, and jack (or should I say Jill) of all trades.” When Codding first arrived to Shore, most of her days were spent supporting adults in their use of technology but changed directions to work directly with students, recalled Ward. “A move like this is a bold one for some, but for Jill it was like watching poetry in motion.” Ward attributed this to Codding’s supportive and collaborative approach with students and teachers, as well as her willingness to discover a solution beside a student. Ward added that Codding’s “willingness to reinvent (herself) in a way that forever changed the kind of learning that happens on the Shore campus.”
Pre-K teacher Beth White’s 35 years of service were the next to be celebrated, which began with Ward’s recitation of lyrics from a friendship song often sung with students. “These words come to me because Beth White is Shore’s very own Circle of Friendship,” said Ward. A facet of what makes her friendships so special is their depth and longevity. The mastery in which White teaches is another thing that makes her following so loyal. “Who else could make something as abstract as hibernation or migration so clear in the mind of a four year old?” said Ward. “Who else would be so committed to documenting a child’s development through monthly portraits in order to allow the child to explore their own identity? Who else would develop relationships with the families that are so deep that parents continue to return to her for her wisdom and advice? This is the art, the talent, and the passion of none other than Beth White.” Lower School Division Head Sara Knox was invited back to the stage to honor White.
The last anniversary to be celebrated was Reading Specialist Rondi Kilham’s 40th year at Shore. Ward asked attendees to join together in song to celebrate Kilham and the impact she has made on the community. As the crowd sang “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles, colleagues, families, and friends were reminded of the “ray of sunshine” Kilham is. “Nothing could better describe Rondi and all that she does for the entire Shore community,” said Ward. Her warmth has been felt through her tenure as the ‘M&M Fairy,’ refilling the candy dishes for teachers and staff, serving as the Costume Mistress for each year’s musical, and all of the behind the scenes time and effort involved in making Head’s Holiday possible. The most important work done by Kilham, however, is supporting Shore’s students. “She is patient, persistent, and a fierce advocate for all in her care,” Ward remarked. Knox was invited back to the stage along with the Student Support Services Department to congratulate and honor Kilham’s stewardship.
Towards the end of the evening, Ward paid tribute to departing employees and the impact they each have had on the Shore community. Those leaving included: Ruth Bauer, Monique Clark, Debora Collison, Louis Frank, Beth Greene, Katie Hertz, Chris Hubbard, Sara Knox, Jenn Mulligan, Maddie Pomeroy, Carol Porter, and Clair Ward.
Ward informed the crowd that a special music performance would bring the Night of Celebration to a close. Weller Henderson, Alex Asacker, Sarah Carlin, and Sarah Sklarsky then sang a beautiful rendition of “The Irish Blessing” in a four-part harmony that moved the crowd.
Guests were thanked for their attendance and invited to stay for treats and to raise a glass to the 2023 honorees.