Thank You for 161 Years: Hotchkiss Celebrates Retired Faculty and Staff

This article appeared in the spring/summer 2023 Hotchkiss Magazine.

Five longtime faculty and staff members retired during the 2022-23 School year. Hotchkiss applauds their decades of service.

By Peter Berlizov ’24, Katharine Ellis’ 26, Katie Qian ’26, And Katie Yang ’25

Christy Cooper

Christy “Coops” Cooper: Iconic Coach, Dean, and Teacher

A role model for Bearcats for more than 35 years, beloved Hotchkiss faculty member Christy Cooper P’08,’11 retired at the end of the School year. Cooper—the Huber G. Buehler chair, instructor in English, and Lufkin Prize recipient—occupied many roles at School, from girls varsity soccer coach to class dean to teacher of the popular senior English elective “Disturbing the Comfortable.” In all of her positions, Cooper impacted the lives of students and colleagues with her empathy, kindness, and strength.

Cooper recalls her decision to join the community, saying, “Before Hotchkiss, I worked for a large public school. It was just not right for me—getting to know the whole student body was hard, and they were trying to ban books. Being that I previously worked in a boarding school in England, Mr. [John] Cooper and I decided that we should try boarding schools.”

Reminiscing about her fondest memories at the School, Cooper said, “I loved living in the dorms. I loved coaching the many teams I’ve coached. I have been grateful to make many lifelong relationships—students and teachers alike.” Cooper has made countless significant contributions to the community during her tenure at the school.

A recipient of the Lufkin Prize in 2011, she was presented with the award by peers who spoke about the many ways in which she has impacted the School. Merrilee Mardon, former associate head of school and dean of faculty, said Cooper “has the most experience of anyone at the School in her work across administrative roles. I think she was ‘student-centered’ long before that was a thing. She’s a leader in modeling how to build community in a classroom, on a team, in a dorm, in a class.”

Cooper also led several important School initiatives focused on improving student life. As the School’s first sexual misconduct prevention and response coordinator, Cooper was essential in helping the School respond to difficult cases and provide education. Mardon said, “She has played a big part in making students feel safe, seen, and supported.”

Affectionately referred to as “Coops,” she has made a substantial impact on her students. Crea Kibar ’26 said, “She helped me out during my darkest times. I was very shy when I first came here, and it was Mrs. Cooper’s encouragement that helped me during my first season of girls varsity soccer.” Cooper will be moving to New Hampshire, which she is excited to explore while spending time with her family, including John Cooper P’08,’11, instructor in mathematics, who retired last year.

Brad Faus retires

Brad Faus: Champion of the Arts

Much of the high praise of the School’s visual arts program can be traced back to Brad Faus P’10, the Marie S. Tinker chair, director of the art program, instructor in art, and Lufkin Prize recipient. Having taught for more than 35 years at the School, Faus also coached girls varsity lacrosse and served on numerous committees.

Faus arrived at the School in 1987 after running the visual art department at Tilton Academy in New Hampshire. He was in search of a larger school with a more robust visual arts program. Faus was part of the team that first established the humanities art requirement for preps and lower mids and helped advance the program from its early stages. He insisted that the curriculum not only include art history, but also embrace the practice of studio art.

“I got a real education with Mr. Faus,” said Charlie Noyes ’78, P’03,’07, former head of the visual arts program. “People say you take art, but here, you study art. Mr. Faus always emphasized the notion of finding meaning in your artmaking. The idea of developing concepts behind your imagery. Don’t just draw something—say something. Tell a story.”

When Faus arrived at the School, the art department was composed of five different programs. He lobbied to make the program more rigorous, with arts required for all students. Commenting on his work with the program, Faus said, “I work to facilitate a studio environment where students can find their own path.” He set high standards for student work in class and in the studio.

To recognize his contributions as a mentor and role model, Faus was awarded the Lufkin Prize in 2018. After decades of teaching at the School, he looks forward to investing in and building his own studio in Charleston, SC, in addition to traveling to Maine and visiting his family in Denver.

Ophelia Cham ’25, said, “I will miss his presence. When I see him in the hallways— his hand waves, his big smile, shoulder pats, and crazy outfits on Halloween.”

Ginny Faus retires

Ginny Faus Inspires Students to Pursue Science

Finding the right words to describe Ginny Faus P’10, the Edward R. Tinker chair, instructor in chemistry, and Lufkin Prize recipient, is a challenge. “She is gentle in her approach, firm with her students, and a mentor to her colleagues,” said Dr. Richard Kirby P’08,’09,’14,’15, instructor in chemistry.

Faus coached varsity and JV swimming, instructional swimming, and club biking, and served as a dorm faculty in Van Santvoord and Garland. Since arriving at the School in 1987 with her husband— Brad Faus P’10 (see previous entry)—she has taught, advised, and coached hundreds of students. She said they stayed at Hotchkiss “because we really love the students. We also have great colleagues to work with, and as a teacher you have incredible opportunities to learn and improve what you do.”

For years, Faus has offered science help to students through the Teaching and Learning Center. Nola Lai ’25 said, “Mrs. Faus has never failed to cheer me up and has made me a better student. She is always willing to come to campus or Zoom to help with studying for a quiz or test.” Faus held both students and colleagues to high standards. Nola said, “I remember on the first day in honors chemistry, she gave us a lab. I left that day wanting to drop the class. The next day, I went to talk to her, and she convinced me that I was in the class for a reason. It completely changed my perspective on the class and how I approach school.”

Dr. Kirby said, “I will miss her support, her willingness to help … the gentle giant she has been in the department. To me, Mrs. Faus is larger than life.”

When asked about what she will do in retirement, Faus said, “I would love to get into a car and just go.” She intends to move to Charleston, SC, and would like to work with animals, particularly rescuing turtles, hiking, and spending time with her children in Colorado.

Ellen Fontaine retires

Ellen Fontaine Keeps School Running Behind the Scenes

Supervisor of Accounting Operations Ellen Fontaine P’04,’07 retired after working at the School for 33 years. Fontaine has been a beloved member of the business office since 1990 and has had two sons, Brody ’04 and Dillon ’07, graduate from the School.

Fontaine started her career at Hotchkiss as a switchboard operator and then assumed an important role in the Hotchkiss Business Office. She was responsible for overseeing all student contracts, billing, insurance, and loans. She also oversaw the recent transition to automated programs like Paymerang and FACTS Tuition Management.

Her tenure encompassed seven heads of school, and her positive demeanor encouraged and inspired many coworkers. Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer Renee Sartori said, “Although she has many admirable qualities, Ellen’s most valuable traits are her professionalism, ability to maintain confidentiality when working with sensitive material, strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and above all, being a team player.”

Reflecting on her time at the School, Fontaine said, “There are many ‘bests’ for me working at Hotchkiss, including spending every day with the greatest team of coworkers anyone could ask for.” She places a great emphasis on the strength of the community. Asked for words of advice to students, she stated, “Take full advantage of all Hotchkiss has to offer. Don’t sweat the small stuff—life is too short.”

Fontaine plans to travel, relax, and hopes to spend time with her soon-to-be five grandchildren at her home in Sharon, CT.

Jim Fornshell retires

Jim Fornshell Fosters Love of Literature

One of the Hotchkiss English Department’s most experienced and devoted teachers, Jim Fornshell, has long been a staple of the School community. Fornshell arrived on campus in the fall of 2000 and served as the head of the English Department as well as the sailing coach for all 23 years. Whether as a teacher, mentor, or colleague, Fornshell influenced many across campus.

Prior to his time at Hotchkiss, Fornshell worked at St. James School and Lake Forest Academy, where he served as an English teacher and dean of academics. His passion for teaching and literature led him to earn a master’s in education at Harvard University and an MLitt (Master of Letters) degree in Shakespeare studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Fornshell applied for teaching positions at various boarding schools in New England, ultimately deciding to join the English Department at Hotchkiss.

Fornshell was able to put his background in Shakespearean studies to work by teaching the course “Shakespeare and the Bible,” an Honors course for seniors. “It has some of the strongest English students in the School and is dealing with the world’s most powerful literature,” Fornshell said. His colleague, Charlie Frankenbach P’12,’16, interim dean of faculty, said, “James has been a wonderful advisor to his kids and colleagues.” Carita Gardiner P’17,’20, instructor in English and this year’s Lufkin Prize recipient, agreed, saying, “He was a huge part of creating the Humanities program. His work in the creation, structure, and content of that twoyear sequence has had a huge impact on what we teach and how we teach.”

Fornshell’s students know him as a teacher of exacting standards, continuous inspiration, and enthusiastic engagement in classroom discussions. A student enrolled in his upper-mid English class stated, “Mr. Fornshell has been one of the most inspiring, engaging, and transformative teachers I have ever had.”

Fornshell expressed gratitude for the talented students he has worked with and the wonderful opportunities the School has given him. When asked what he will miss most about Hotchkiss, Fornshell said, “All the goofy things the kids do—sliding in the mud on the golf course, sledding, holidays, and all the funny times sitting around the Harkness table in class.” Fornshell also values the numerous travel opportunities the School has given him, including a year-long sabbatical in 2009-10 when he went to cooking school in Italy, studied at Oxford, and traveled to Cairo, Egypt, among other adventures.

Fornshell plans to move to his house on Cape Cod where he plans to continue sailing and pursue his love of travel. In particular, he hopes to visit Australia to achieve his goal of traveling to all seven continents.

This story was first published in The Hotchkiss Record and was slightly updated.

View photos of the retirement dinner.

Honoring retiring faculty and staff

Hotchkiss thanks the following faculty and staff members who also retired during the 2022-23 academic year:

  • Acquisitions Librarian Nancy Davis P’94
  • Instructor in Physics Michael Hickey
  • Housekeeper Richard Ross
  • Assistant Supervisor of Housekeeping John Wheeler

All retirees were recognized during the spring Head of School Holiday on May 18, 2023.

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