Each year, Tabor faculty nominate their peers for an award that honors professional excellence, the Seawolf Faculty Award. Once selected, the winners are announced at All School Meeting by the colleague who nominated them, allowing our students to join the celebration of their teachers and to witness what their teachers value in their peers. This year, we were very pleased to honor the excellent work of three faculty members Will Becker (Math), Steve Downes (Chinese, and Director of the Center for International Students), and Amelia Wright (Science).
Will Becker was described as an embodiment of professional excellence by his colleague Matt Voci, a fellow math teacher. He shared, “A pillar of humility, Will Becker continually sets higher standards for himself than anyone he teaches, coaches, or advises. His behaviors are contagious and are an impetus for students and teachers to want to be better versions of themselves. His current and former students call him ‘inspired’ and ‘inspiring,’ ‘a teacher who has challenged me to be at my best,’ and have said that ‘he finds a way to motivate every student in every class.’ His fellow teachers describe his work ethic and his kindness as ‘unparalleled.’ Finally, Voci said, “His ability to attain excellence in so many facets of Tabor life is transparent to everyone except himself.”
Upon nominating Steve Downes, P.J. O’Connell, Director of Advancement, observed, “Steve Downes is quite simply, from what I have seen, the model representative of Tabor. He displays a real commitment to and love for his work. He displays a genuine care and affection for the students who come to Tabor from far-flung places….Most of all, it is the way Steve relates to the families of our international students that prompts my nomination. He weaves among them with quiet humility and respect, and they absolutely adore him.”
Math Department Chair, Nate Meleo ’95 spoke on behalf of Amelia Wright saying, “I have much respect for Amelia Wright as a teacher and colleague. She is passionate in her subject area, a self-described, unabashed science NERD, always looking to stay current in her field and work with students to increase their love and understanding of that subject. She sets clear expectations and a high bar, and gives students the tools to succeed in an engaging environment. In addition to this, Ms. Wright is always looking to step up and improve the scientific experience for students through research trips.” In summary, he said, “She is committed to making things around her better, and holding high standards for herself and the culture around her.”
Before speaking for Ms. Wright, Meleo shared the importance of these awards saying, “ I think most of us in this room, students and faculty alike, would agree that it is never the day-to-day experience or details about specific classes or material you remember from your time in school. Instead, it is far more common that we can recall, with great clarity, details about the teachers, coaches, advisors, and faculty with whom we lived and learned. Some teachers stand out as folks who throw themselves into that work, with time and talent; passion and excellence. I think that’s what these awards are about; recognizing a faculty member who gives so much to teach and model in so many different ways and areas, and leaves lasting impressions and influence on our lives.”
We are enormously grateful for the care and commitment all our teachers bring to their work each and every day with our students. We congratulate each of these three influential teachers for the honor bestowed on them by their peers today, high praise indeed! Going by the applause, it was obviously a great pleasure for our whole community to be part of celebrating excellence in teaching at Tabor Academy.