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Tabor Celebrates the Careers of Three Distinguished Retirees 

Tabor Celebrates the Careers of Three Distinguished Retirees 

As the end of the academic year approaches, Tabor Academy honors the careers of three venerable members of its faculty who are set to retire. Chris Adams, John Heavey, and Wiley Wakeman ’68 have each left a profound impact on the Tabor community through decades of service, teaching, and mentorship. As we bid farewell to these esteemed educators, we reflect on their enduring contributions and the indelible memories they leave behind. 

Chris Adams: A Legacy of Leadership in Language and Athletics 

Tabor: 1999-2024

Chris Adams leaves behind a legacy marked by his profound influence on language education and his unwavering commitment to fostering a multicultural understanding among his students. In addition to teaching, Chris raised his family at Tabor. “I am fortunate that all three of my children—Rachelle ’09, Tomás ’12, and Sarah ’16—grew up at Tabor and attended Tabor.”   

Over his 25 years at the School by the Sea, Adams has been pivotal in developing a Spanish program that is deeply rooted in engaging students with practical and immersive experiences, helping them to not only learn the language but also to embrace its cultural significance. “As a Spanish teacher, I have been fortunate to have traveled to many Spanish speaking countries,” he shares, noting that the places he has visited include Spain, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. These travels allow Adams to share their cultures and language in the classroom, enhancing student learning. 

Adams has more recently focused on the advanced level Spanish courses, enriching his students' understanding by consistently engaging them in complex conversations and high-level linguistic functions. While he admits to missing starting from scratch with beginner students, he notes that teaching the more advanced students “is fun because I can speak Spanish with them and just try to stay in the language all the time," emphasizing the immersive approach he prefers to foster deeper learning and fluency among his students. This approach of “sticking to the target language,” is something that Adams believes is part of the legacy he will leave behind. “My colleagues appreciate how I engage the students in the language, always.” 

Beyond the classroom, Adams was instrumental in building Tabor's cross-country program, shaping it into a nurturing community, one that has included his own family. He is known for telling his team, "You’re my other family," highlighting the deep bonds formed through shared challenges and triumphs. His dedication to his students extends into his coaching, where he fosters not only athletic prowess but also a strong sense of team unity and personal integrity.  
Adams has served as the head coach of cross country his entire career at Tabor, and head coach of track and field up until this year. He’s currently serving as the assistant coach, “which is perfect,” he notes, adding that while he tried to make distance runners out of his own children, he “ended up with a javelin thrower and two multi event track athletes.  

“I was very fortunate to be able to coach my own children, and I am very proud that Tomás and Sarah still hold the Tabor school records for the pole vault. And it is one of my greatest pleasures to coach alongside my daughter Sarah who works with our pole vaulters in the spring.” Adams plans to stay connected to Tabor by continuing to coach cross-country next fall, ensuring his legacy of commitment and excellence endures. He even hopes to bring home a championship.  

Adams looks forward to a retirement filled with travel and exploration, having already planned trips including Costa Rica in the winter, then to Portugal in the early spring where he and his girlfriend will hike the Caminho Portugues from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. He has additional stops in Liverpool, Canary Islands, and plenty of time spent in Portugal and Spain. In addition, he loves to bike, paddleboard, and walk, among other activities, so retirement will be packed with adventure. Adams intends to enjoy the active lifestyle he promoted among his students. "Teaching and coaching have been my whole life for 42 years," he reflects, hinting at the bittersweet nature of his departure from full-time teaching.  

Adams adds that Tabor was his fourth school, “and I’m happy I landed here.”  


John Heavey: A Literary Giant's Farewell 

Tabor: 1994-2024

John Heavey, who will serve as this year’s Baccalaureate speaker, is revered for his deep connection with literature and his students. Known for his profound dedication to literature and deep connection with his students, Heavey's teaching style and philosophical approach to education have left a lasting imprint on the school community. 

His start at Tabor was rather abrupt thanks to a delay with his movers. He and his wife, Alex, were moving from their house in Framingham to Tabor with their two sons—Sam ’08, who was 3.5 at the time, and Cal ’12, only 3 months old. “We arrived on campus at the end of faculty meetings with classes beginning the next day! Also, most of our furniture had to be put into storage as our Tabor home—the Lillard North One apartment—was being renovated for us to occupy in late November. We were moved into a rental house on Zora Road,” he recalls. “My first day on the job at Tabor was quite disorientating. However, it felt good to quickly settle into my classes and the rest of the Tabor-day.”  

Despite the quick start, Heavey truly did settle into Tabor. Throughout his tenure, Heavey fostered an environment where literature was not just studied but lived. His classes were dynamic spaces where discussions about books like "The Color Purple" were tied to broader cultural and historical contexts, giving students not only a deeper understanding of the texts but also of the world around them. Heavey's ability to draw connections between literature and the human experience enriched his students' learning and often led to profound insights about life itself. 

His work extended beyond the English classroom and into the Black Box theater at Tabor. This intimate performance space became a venue where Heavey directed plays and nurtured a love for the dramatic arts among students. Reflecting on his time directing, Heavey shares, "When I go into the Black Box or into the auditorium, I can just see shows that I've done. I can remember them so vividly." This sentiment captures his deep connection with theatrical productions and his role in bringing characters and narratives to life on stage. 

To honor his impact on the community, Heavey was surprised at a recent Chapel service, at which he thought he was giving a typical Chapel Talk about poetry with former colleague Wes Chaput. After he began his talk, he was surprised by Chaput, a “fellow poetry geek,” who kicked off a celebration of Heavey’s career at Tabor, complete with poetic tributes from students, alumni, faculty, and his eldest son.  

Heavey’s retirement plans include indulging his love for reading and possibly continuing to engage with educational activities in a less formal capacity. He will deeply miss the daily interactions with students and colleagues that have enriched his life. "The relationships I've built here, the discussions we’ve had, have all shaped me as much as I hope I have shaped our students," he states, underscoring the reciprocal nature of education at Tabor. Read more about Heavey and his career at Tabor in his Baccalaureate Farewell article


Wiley Wakeman ’68: Full Circle from Student to Mentor 

Tabor: 1973-1984, 1996-2024

Wiley Wakeman's unique journey at Tabor from student to a long-serving faculty member has deeply influenced his approach to education and his commitment to the school community. What was intended to be just a year-long trial turned into two, and eventually 39 years of commitment to the school. His initial tenure at Tabor saw Wakeman teaching nautical science and mechanical drawing, areas that allowed him to blend his maritime interests with educational pursuits.  

Beyond his academic contributions, Wakeman was a prominent figure in athletics, coaching varsity football, hockey, and crew. His leadership in the crew program was particularly notable. He took over as head crew coach in 1976, leading the team to numerous successful seasons and fostering a robust program that competed at high levels, including prestigious regattas like Henley. "When Harry Hoyle retired, that’s when I took over as the head crew coach," says Wakeman, detailing his progression to leading one of Tabor's waterfront sports programs. 

Wakeman's connection to Tabor extends beyond his professional roles; it is personal and profound. After a 12-year hiatus from Tabor spent in the sail-making industry, the draw of the community and the joy of teaching and coaching never left. While living in Maine he met his wife, Michelle. Throughout these times, Tabor remained with him. Expressing the pull of Tabor's community on his life and career, he shares, "I always missed it—the community, the teaching, coaching, and school life."  

When Don Tyler called him to see if he’d be interested in coming back to run the sailing program over the summer, Wakeman accepted the offer. He soon found out there was an opening in the Admissions Office and an opening in the Health Center for Michelle. After meeting with Jay Stroud, they both were hired, and the rest, as they say, is history.  

These roles allowed Wakeman to impact the school's development directly, shaping the next generations of Tabor students not only through classroom and coaching but also through strategic admissions initiatives. As he approaches retirement, Wakeman plans to remain connected to the maritime activities he loves and to keep ties with the Tabor community. His years at Tabor are filled with cherished memories of mentoring young minds and leading teams to victory, and he looks forward to maintaining those relationships in his next chapter. 

Join us as we celebrate the careers of Chris Adams, John Heavey, and Wiley Wakeman; these educators have not only taught but have also impacted the lives of many with their wisdom, compassion, and dedication. Their legacy at Tabor will surely continue to inspire future generations.