Two Brooks teachers received endowed chairs in March. Susanna Waters, who is chair of the history department, received the Waldo Holcombe Chair. English teacher Leigh Perkins ’81 received the Prince Charitable Trust Chair. Head of School John Packard announced the chair recipients in front of a packed house in Ashburn Chapel.
Although Mr. Packard has previously presented faculty with endowed chairs, he noted that he had never before presented two chairs at the same time. He described the process of faculty nominating each other for chairs as “collegiality in its purest form.”
“In essence, today we celebrate much more than two endowed chair recipients,” Mr. Packard continued. “We celebrate great teaching, great schoolwork, great engaging and great service to our school. We celebrate the entire Brooks School faculty.”
Waters, who was appointed to the faculty in 2009, teaches world and United States history. She previously taught at Holderness School. Waters received her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education from St. Lawrence University, where she played on the lacrosse team and earned Academic All-America honors. She lives on campus with her husband, history teacher Willie Waters ’02.
Perkins grew up on the Brooks campus. Both of her parents were on the faculty at Brooks. She attended Brooks, and then attended Williams College and Suffolk University Law School. Perkins worked as a litigator and a journalist before returning to Brooks in 1998 as director of alumni and parent programs. Perkins joined the English department in 2004. She lives on campus with her husband, arts teacher and Audio-Visual Director Matthew Grant.
During the ceremony, Mr. Packard read a tribute to Waters written by another faculty member: “She is a teacher’s teacher in the way she approaches her craft. She is a student’s teacher in the way she inspires kids and brings out their best, by setting a high bar and then helping them to clear it. It’s a terrific and rare balance of traits. She’s the kind of educator I hope my own children are lucky enough to have someday.”
Mr. Packard also read aloud tributes to Perkins written by Brooks faculty. “She is someone who is always looking for ways to engage and challenge our kids inside and outside the classroom,” Mr. Packard read. “She’s creative, relentless and believes in kids when they don’t always believe in themselves.” He continued: “She is a statue in the community. She exhibits excellence in her teaching, works toward equity and justice, and is a wonderful community member. I most admire her passion and commitment to others. She works tirelessly to educate and inform the Brooks community about the notion of privilege.”
The chairs support compensation and benefits for faculty members and provide the holder with a small stipend for professional use. In addition to Perkins and Waters, four faculty hold endowed chairs: English teacher Mark Shovan holds the F. Fessenden Wilder Endowed Chair; mathematics teacher Dusty Richard holds the Richard F. Holmes Chair; Doug Burbank, who is chair of the mathematics department, holds the Hope H. van Beuren Endowed Chair; and Deb Davies, who is chair of the classical and world languages department, holds the Independence Foundation Chair.