Head of School John Packard took to the Ashburn Chapel lectern in mid-November to bestow endowed faculty chairs on two respected members of the Brooks faculty. English department chair Dean Charpentier received the F. Fessenden Wilder Endowed Chair. Science department chair Randy Hesse received the Waldo Holcombe Chair. Charpentier and Hesse join mathematics faculty Dusty Richard, mathematics department chair Doug Burbank, English faculty Leigh Perkins and classical languages faculty Deb Davies as the holders of the school’s endowed faculty chairs.
“These two teachers have reached students and colleagues throughout their adult lives in ways that demand decency, in ways that ooze humility, in ways that are rooted in kindness, in ways that are always civil and in ways that reveal an embedded commitment to being empathic in everything they do,” Mr. Packard told the assembly. “They are good listeners, deep thinkers, and demanding and patient with their colleagues and students all at the same time. They are the sort of master teachers that students recall for the rest of their lives. Indeed, as we seek to provide the most meaningful educational experience our students will have in their lives, these two engines of the highest order.”
As part of the process of selecting endowed chair recipients, Mr. Packard and Dean of Faculty John McVeigh solicited nominations and insight from the entire Brooks faculty. Mr. Packard gave the ceremony a personal touch by reading aloud some of the comments sent by the faculty in support of Charpentier’s and Hesse’s nominations.
Faculty comments on Charpentier focused on his ability to teach by listening and giving students space to explore their own thoughts and abilities. “I strive to embrace his quiet confidence, creativity and tenacity in my own teaching every time I enter the classroom,” one faculty colleague wrote. “He listens far more than he speaks, and the safe space he creates for all to bring their full selves forth is the evidence of his wisdom.” Another faculty colleague applauded Charpentier’s ability to “help the most reticent kid find her voice. Hand in hand with the technical skills he imparts is a trust and a confidence he elicits from his students that they are safe with him, and they can use these new tools to think about their lives if that’s how they are moved, and so many of them are.”
Faculty comments on Hesse centered on his dedication to intellectual excellence and inquiry, and on his devotion to the Brooks community. “He is the first person that I think deserves this honor for the simple fact that he lives and breathes Brooks School,” one colleague wrote. “The school is in his soul. He is an engaged teacher who challenges his students, pushing them to be their best. He has endless creativity that he uses to enrich his instruction. He also believes in the residential life of Brooks as a parent in Peabody. During our first dorm meeting last year, he gave an impassioned speech about how Peabody is a dorm that has a tradition of respect and appreciation for diversity.”
Mr. Packard concluded by offering his own thoughts on Charpentier and Hesse, framed against the background of “a time of considerable uneasiness in this country.”
“As a parent, I have considered my daughter blessed to be in their classrooms,” Mr. Packard said. “As head of school, I look forward to what lies ahead, buoyed by their presence and certain of the difference they will make in an uncertain time.”