They have come from different places. Their passions are unique to themselves.
But what do the teachers leaving the Upper School this year share?
Countless memories, advice, and final words for their colleagues and students.
“It’s hard to imagine Hockaday without the many fine teachers who will be leaving us at the end of this year,” says upper school English teacher Kyle Vaughn. “I’ve learned so much from them that has influenced my teaching throughout the past several years, for example, patience from Mr. Dumaine, or wisdom and wit from Mr. Wasserman. I wish all those departing from us the best of luck.”
These sentiments are shared by the entire community. Junior Casey Watters says, “Whether you’ve had them or not, each of these teachers has left their permanent mark on Hockaday, and their legacies will forever remain.”
To Watters, a couple of memories stand out, “Coach Acuff’s caring personality that so clearly showed through bus rides, Wass’s unique Media Lit class, and Mrs. Zabriek’s rubber band car experiment are just a few of the memories that will always remain in the hearts of every Hockadaisy.”
When one door closes, another one opens. With every ending, there is a beginning. It may sound a little cheesy, but there is some truth to these sayings. And as members of the Hockaday community say their farewells to beloved and remarkable faculty, they also anticipate welcoming newcomers in the fall.
Due to the lengthy tenure of most teachers, the school has reached a period during which many of its senior faculty members are reaching retirement age. Between February and March, Cathy Murphree, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs led the nationwide search for candidates to fill nine positions for the 2010-2011 school year.
But how do these new teachers come to teach at Hockaday? The Fourcast looks into the process.
Eighty applicants expressed interest in teaching at Hockaday, a pool that was narrowed down to 25 candidates who were seriously considered.
One teacher arrived on campus to hand deliver her letter of application to the department head. Although she lived out of state, she had decided that a teaching position at Hockaday was the only position in the entire country that matched her ideal job description and she was determined to prove she deserved it.
The interview process includes lengthy conversations, campus visits, opportunities to observe and teach in Hockaday classrooms and even tours of the Dallas area for those from out of the city.
“[We want] people who want to be lifelong learners themselves, people who are masters in their discipline and excited about their discipline and can impart that to the students. We want teachers who really want to be engaged with the students outside of the classroom,” Murphree said of the types of candidates considered.
English Department Chair Dr. Deborah Moreland finds it difficult to pinpoint what identifies a candidate as the right choice for the position. She said, “You know right away. The way the person teaches in the classroom, you just kind of feel it… who knows what it might be. It has a lot to do with [chemistry].”
Bob Patrizi (Science)
Years at Hockaday: 26
Saddest to leave: Advisory. “I love the idea of being with the young girls and talking about all kinds of things. We had an unwritten rule that there were no holds barred as to what you could talk about but it had to stay within the advisory. It was so much fun to get to know the girls on a different level.”
What he’ll miss: Teaching. “What I love to do is work with students who feel like they don’t understand chemistry. They’re fearful of it, they’re dreading coming to class, and I like to show them that you are as intelligent as we are as faculty members. We just have a little more experience in the subject matter.”
Plans for the future: He and his wife will be leasing their house in Dallas so they can travel and see family and friends in June and then go spend four to five months in Scotland in a flat Mrs. Patrizi inherited. This will be a second home for the Patrizis, who plan to split their time between Dallas and Scotland.
He’ll never forget: Being guest coach of the varsity basketball team. “That meant so much to me. I was just beside myself. I still keep [the picture] on my computer at home.”
Beth Pethel (Boarding)
Years at Hockaday: 3
Before Hockaday: “I was a teacher of math and science and a dorm leader at a boarding school in Pennsylvania.”
Most Memorable Experience: “I don’t think anyone can walk away from here having seen a graduation ceremony without having that etched into their memory.”
Why She’s Leaving: Family commitments “I’m feeling the need to be closer to my parents as they are getting older.”
Saying Goodbye: “I’ll miss the students; I’ll miss my colleagues….It’s been a very good experience. I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been here, I’ve grown a lot while I’ve been here, and I’ve really enjoyed [it]….I’m definitely hoping to keep in touch.”
Carlos Arandia (Spanish)
Years at Hockaday: 28
Separation Anxiety: “The emotional, the intellectual, even the spiritual connection in the many years I’ve been here is very rooted. You can’t imagine. Let’s say that you live with your family for 28 years and suddenly you say goodbye….On the other hand, the expectation of turning the page and starting a new chapter in one life is also very exciting.”
Plans for the future: “This is the first time in many years that I am not structured, there’s nothing for me to do. And I tell my wife we are going to play it by ear. Maybe spur of the moment; that’s more fun.”
He’ll never forget: “I have learned to appreciate beauty here at Hockaday, beauty of many levels, and that is the thing that I am carrying with me probably until I die.”
Cassidy Acuff (Athletics)
Years at Hockaday: 19 total (12 as a student and 7 as a coach)
What she’ll miss: The school. “I truly believe that the faculty loves this place as much as the kids do. I’m going to miss that community that does exist.”
Plans for the future: She has applied to grad school, and she will be working either as an assistant women’s soccer coach and going to school at North Texas, or she will be part of a master’s program for higher education at Oklahoma University where she will be working with the athletic department. “It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I need to continue school in order to continue my job and continue to move up.”
Advice to successor: “Keep your head up, there’s a lot to learn. Hockaday is its own world, and being from Hockaday made it easy for me so I didn’t have to learn that part. But get to know the girls, they’ll help you out. They’re the ones that help steer you in the right direction.”
How she has changed: “Athletics has always been a big part of my life [but now I understand] that there’s a whole picture to life as opposed to just my sport. Hockaday girls want to do everything and I’ve learned how to encourage them to follow their path. I used to be extremely competitive and now its not always about winning, its about improving, and about what that means to improve your skill set and have fun with it at the same time.”
Isabelle Seeman (Library)
Years at Hockaday: 20
How she got here: “I love libraries and books, and I’ve always been a great reader. I needed a good job, like being around young people, and like helping people; I think young people are the future, and I strongly believe in good education as the key to that. It was a good fit.”
Plans for the future: “When I come back in the fall I’m going to start figuring out what the next phase will be; I might figure that out over the summer as I sit around on the deck and watch the hawks fly, but it will involve volunteer work of some kind, probably with children. I think it would be really wonderful to do a literacy program or a tutoring program with children, young enough where there’s still a chance to turn them around and help them, before they get too set.”
What She’ll Miss Most: “The people. The students are part of that ‘people’ equation—it’s a stimulating place to be, all the way around; I learn from other adults and I learn from the students.”
Jim Wasserman (History)
Years at Hockaday: 16.
Leaving is “incredibly tough. I’ve been longer at Hockaday than I’ve been in my two marriages combined.”
He’ll never forget: “Consistently my favorite Hockaday memory is seeing a kid who may not fully believe in herself come up and say something or where I just see that she has that little extra glimmer of believing in herself and her own ability, or even more than believing in herself, knows herself a little bit better.”
The Learning Curve: “As I ask y’all to take chances and introspect, you have forced me that back on me or compelled me to do that myself. Believe it or not, all the times that my conservative students have said ‘But Wass, wait,’ I’ve actually gone home and thought about it, and I’ll never fully admit this (except now) but I’ve changed many of my opinions because of what the students demand of me.”
Advice to successor: “My advice to them is something that an old lawyer who I was training with told me. ‘Young people always want to be clever, but in the end clever takes a backseat to sincere. In the end, first and foremost, be sincere, believe in what you’re saying, believe in what you’re doing. And that will get you farther than being clever.’ And I would say love the kids, love what you teach, and always remember: you’re not teaching history, you’re teaching young ladies. History just happens to be the thing you’re talking about.”
Karen Drawz (Administration)
Years at Hockaday: 33
Most Memorable Experience: “My very first day here as a new faculty person and meeting all the faculty, administrators, and members of the board. I remember it to this day. Also the day I received the Honorary Alum Award in 2008. That was a high point in my career at Hockaday and one I shall always treasure.”
How Hockaday Changed Her: “I’m more confident in my administrative role. The caliber of this school enabled me to set my sights higher in terms of expectations for myself as well as expectations for others. It’s also heightened my thirst for professional development and pushed me towards things that I may not have done before; I’m a little more adventurous.”
PLans for the future: “I’ve started my own consulting business in education, and I’d like to see that get off the road. I plan to go take classes that I’ve always wanted to take and just never had the time to. Also travel and just have some time to myself. I have 2 golden retrievers that get ignored all the time, and I’d liked to spend a little more time with them. I’ll probably do some volunteer work.”
Norm Dumaine (English)
Years at Hockaday: 35
Plans for the future: Move to the coast of Sarasota, Florida with his wife. “My wife has always wanted to live by the sea…. One thing that Dallas does not have is an ocean. We’ve been here for quite a few years and my wife has been so generous and supportive in allowing me to live out my dream of teaching here at Hockaday. I think it has reached the time for her to live out her dream. So the plan is to find someplace near the ocean.”
What he will miss most: the students. “I will miss the exchange that we have in the class room; I will miss the exchange we have in the advisory, and I will miss the way that students are willing to wonder and to question and to allow themselves to challenge things about the way people think. There is an excitement about that type of exchange and it is one of the things that makes school so great.”
Advice for successor: “To be open and to listen and to observe in regard to students and colleagues. I would advise that they allow themselves to be themselves. “
Stacy Thomas (Debate)
Years at Hockaday: 6
What she did before: I taught in Austin…for four years. I was also a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, and I wrote for a group of community magazines in the Dallas community.
Most memorable experience: The times that have meant the most to me have been… with the debate girls, listening to them argue about something they’re passionate about and watching them really grow as intellectuals and individuals. I will really miss the “family feel.”
Plans for the future: “I’m taking a job teaching English at YES Prep East End School, a public charter school for grades six to twelve. The goal is to get disadvantaged children from poor, immigrant communities into college, to encourage social justice and mobility through education and make college a reality.”
Rachel Zabierek (Science)
Years at Hockaday: 4
Why she’s leaving: “Blame it on my husband…It was time for him to take a new job.
Most memorable experience: Making a snowman on the roof with Ms. Black
Plans for the future: Teaching Physics and possibly other things at Bishops School in La Jolla, San Diego.
What She’ll Miss most: The students. “That’s what I look forward to coming to school every day. And, there’ll be students at the new school, but not quite like these.”
Final Words: “I’ve loved every minute here at Hockaday, and I look forward to coming back to visit. And tell my advisory they’re awesome!”
Also Saying Goodbye
In addition to the faculty leaving Upper School, several other community members will be leaving the school at the end of this year. These teachers have made an incredible impact on Hockaday and they will be truly missed:
Julie Kay Maguire
-By Kristy, Katelyn, Annabel, and Caroline