New Opportunity Attracts Longtime Teacher

Jenny Lee, the current head of the Chinese department was recently offered a job heading the Chinese department at the McDonough School in Baltimore, Md.  While it will be hard for Lee’s beloved students to see her go, she is excited about the prospect of this new opportunity.

Known for not only her Chinese teaching but also for her close relationship with her students and advisees, Lee is thought of by her students as their “second mom.”

“I’ll miss her dumpling parties the most,” says Alexis, one of Lee’s current freshman advisees.

When Lee announced that she would be leaving the school, she called in her advisory and some of her closet students and boarders so they could hear the news first.

“She told us about her new job at the McDonough School, and while we were all happy for her and the great opportunity, I don’t think one person in the room wasn’t crying,” says freshman Katie, another one of Lee’s current advisees.  “She told us what a hard decision it was for her, and that she wanted us to know first. It was nice being able to hear the news in a more intimate setting.”

One of the hardest parts of leaving, says Lee, will be saying goodbye to the boarders whom she has grown to know so well.

“One of my fondest memories at Hockaday is when I celebrated Chinese New Year’s with my boarders,” she says.

The New Year, the most important holiday in Chinese culture, happened to fall during the snow days this year when school was cancelled for a week, but Lee braved the icy weather and drove up to the school with her two children and husband.

She provided a group of boarding students with a home-cooked meal while they played games and sang traditional songs.

“Even though I’m going to miss my girls, I’m very excited about the possibility to teach such a variety of students” says Lee, who will have the opportunity to teach kindergarten and sixth grade as well as upper school next year.

Lee says about her undetermined successor, “I believe Hockaday will find a very good replacement. I am very confident that my girls will be happy, even though it’s hard to say goodbye.”

Among her many roles in the school—teacher, advisor, second mother to boarding students, and friend to many—one of Lee’s most important roles in the school is that of mother to her second grade daughter, Victoria, who will be attending the McDonough School next year along with her eighth grade brother Jack, who currently attends St. Mark’s.

“It will be a big transition for my family, but I know we will adjust to the school well, as long as we don’t freeze,” says Lee.

Since McDonough School offers a five-day boarding program, Lee plans for her family to reside at the school while she teaches there. She will eat meals and live on campus with her family.

Her absence from the Hockaday campus will have a major impact on current students.

“Mrs. Lee is the type of teacher who you can talk to anytime you see her; she’s a great friend and will be missed,” says sophomore Anase, who has taken Chinese with Lee for three years. “She’s incredibly accessible and easily relatable. The next head of the department has big shoes to fill.”

—Molly