Week of Gratitude Recognizes Faculty and Staff

The week that students returned from spring break marked a celebration of gratitude. From posters highlighting employees who have served from five to 35 years to a bulletin board where students, faculty, and staff wrote the reasons they are grateful to Hotchkiss, the entire week was designated as one of giving thanks.  

The Anniversary Awards Ceremony, held with all students in attendance during Community Time, was one highlight of the week. This annual ceremony recognizes those employees who have served for 25 years as well as the winners of two special awards that recognize tremendous contributions to the School made by members of the staff: the Margot Hooker Award and the Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Award.

“Running this School is a tremendous undertaking,” said Head of School Craig Bradley in opening the ceremony. “Hotchkiss’s 335 employees have collectively provided 3,102 years of service. These colleagues contribute day in and day out to assure the excellence of the Hotchkiss experience.”

Staff Recognition Awards

Dennis Smith Receives Margot Hooker Award
James G. “Dennis” Smith III, assistant grounds supervisor, has received the Margot Hooker Award, which was established in September 1996 in memory of Margot Hooker, a 28-year member of the Hotchkiss staff. It is presented annually to a member of the staff who best exemplifies those traits of character which distinguished Margot Hooker: thoughtfulness, reliability, attachment to the institution, cheerfulness, kindness to one’s co-workers, and the example one sets for others.  

In recognizing Smith, Bradley said, “It has been said that ‘Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.’ One of the ground’s department’s special, dedicated, and hardest working individuals is Dennis Smith. He is a doer, an action-oriented individual, and a straight shooter. He is very good at adapting to whatever problems arise and willing to do whatever is needed to finish the task. Dennis’ ability to support and mentor his colleagues may be his strongest attribute. He is always willing to learn, but also truly interested in imparting his knowledge to others so they can grow in their own work responsibilities. Dennis’s commitment to the School, to the students, and pride in his work are obvious to those around him. The Hotchkiss community benefits from his high standards, attention to detail, and willingness to support the School’s mission.” 

Lisa Brown Receives Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Award
Lisa Brown, director of events and special projects, has received the Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Award, established in 2017 to recognize a staff member who, through personal commitment, dedication, loyalty, and willingness to go beyond the call of duty, has enhanced the sense of community at Hotchkiss. The award is sustained by the permanent endowment of the Robert and Candice Barker Staff Recognition Fund and honors Robert and Candice Barker, whose work, for over nearly four decades, exemplified dedication to this school. Robert taught history at Hotchkiss, with great distinction for 39 years, holding the E. Carlton Granbury Teaching Chair for two decades. 

In recognizing Brown, Bradley said, “Surely, everyone in this room knows Mrs. Brown, but let me begin by listing just a few campus events with which you may be familiar: Weekly Community Time; Opening Days; Convocation; Matriculation; Family Weekend; Spirit Week; the Upper-Mid College Forum; numerous winter holiday celebrations; Lunar New Year; MLK Day; the re-opening of Walker Auditorium; award ceremonies like this one; Revisit Days for admitted students; Senior Dance; Graduation.

“Imagine, for just a moment, the amount of work required to bring all of that to life. In the words of just one of a number of people who nominated her to receive this award, ‘Lisa continuously goes above and beyond her responsibilities to make sure ALL School activities and events go smoothly and seamlessly. She never forgets a single detail and attends to these details with enthusiasm and professionalism. I have seen her pulling into and out of campus at all hours of the day and night. She is loyal beyond compare. Her presence, dedication, and tireless efforts to create and promote community activities make her the best choice for this award.’

“Another nominator describes her as ‘the heartbeat of the place,’ an observation with which I wholeheartedly agree. On behalf of the School and on a personal level, I am deeply grateful to Mrs. Brown for her tireless contributions, her cool head, her ability to resolve problems before they arise, her boundless loyalty—and above all, her endless good cheer.” 

Congratulations to Our Milestone 25th Anniversary Honorees

Jim Kennedy, Golf Course Manager in the Department of Student and Auxiliary Services
In paying tribute to Kennedy at the awards ceremony, John Bryant, director of facilities, said, “The golf course is a Hotchkiss treasure and Jim has been the steward of this unique gem for the past two and a half decades. He has been its ambassador and host, its professional, educator, historian and advocate. If you know Jim, you know that he loves the sport of golf and is passionate about The Hotchkiss School and its beautiful course. Those who know Jim well know that he is also a story teller. So the next time you are planning to play nine at Hotchkiss, allow yourself a few extra minutes to spend with Jim and you may learn something you never knew about the fine sporting landscape that forms a necklace around our campus.”
Richard Kirby P’08,’09.’14,’15, The Independence Foundation Chair, Instructor in Chemistry
In recognizing Kirby, Merrilee Mardon, associate head of school and dean of faculty, said, “There are few role models like Dr. Kirby here or elsewhere. His warmth and genuine care and concern for all community members is apparent within the first few minutes of meeting him. His service to our students is extraordinary. He is always thinking and planning about how to help students, not only learn chemistry at the highest level, but also to ensure that students know they are seen, safe, and supported. One student wrote about DK, ‘You taught me that it’s okay to have fun while learning…you were probably one of the reasons why I chose Hotchkiss, but you are definitely one of the reasons why I loved it.’ Another wrote, ‘I believe that through your help I have become a better person, and one day, I hope that I can become the man you are.’"

Alan Simon P’09,’10, Instructor in Jazz Piano in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts
Alan Simon is an inspiring and accomplished musician and teacher—considered a musician’s musician—a skilled, inventive player who commands both traditional and modern jazz. Mardon applauded Simon for his contributions to Hotchkiss while providing a brief history of his accomplishments. Growing up in New York City, he graduated with honors from the City University of New York, earning a bachelor of arts in music. He has also earned a master’s in jazz history and research from Rutgers University. Prior to his arrival at Hotchkiss, Simon was awarded the Individual Artists' Fellowship Grant for music composition by the New York Foundation for the Arts.Simon first attracted national attention during his years with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He recorded and toured globally, performing with such jazz legends as Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Tate. 

Charlie Tokarz, Instructor in Saxophone in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts
“Charlie Tokarz might be as humble as he is talented as a teacher and musician,” said Mardon. “Not one to toot his own horn, Mr. Tokarz is not only a dedicated and supportive teacher, he is also an accomplished musician” who has performed with several jazz masters and has appeared at the White House, the Today Show, 92nd Street Y, MASS MOCA, Merce Cunningham Studios, and Club Helsinki. He has also recorded music for HBO. Tokarz is a multi-talented horn player and one of the only musicians who plays two saxes at the same time with multi-layered electric effects. He also plays locally at several venues, and he regularly pitches in to support music and musical performance locally. 

Additional Milestone Anniversaries Across Campus

The following faculty and staff were recognized for their milestone anniversaries this year and we congratulate them for their contributions to the Hotchkiss community. 

35 Years of Service
Joe O’Connor P’10, Manager of Auxiliary Services

30 Years of Service
Chris Burchfield P’08,’10,’18, the L. Blair Torrey, Jr. ’50 Chair, Instructor in English
Ana Hermoso P’16, the Audrey Meyer Mars Teaching Chair, Spanish Program Coordinator, Instructor in Spanish
Letty Roberts P’12,’15, the George and Jody Stone Teaching Chair, Instructor in Mathematics

20 Years of Service
Iris Mortman, Health Services, Registered Nurse
Danny Smith P’18,’20,’24, Co-Director of Athletics
Anju Taneja, P’04,’09, Instructor in Physics

15 Years of Service
Cindi Curtiss, Assistant to the Office of Financial Aid
Dave D’Andrea, Plumbing-HVAC Supervisor
Richard Davis Jr., Dean of Academic Life, Instructor in Classics
Bill Fenton, Director of the Observatory, Instructor in Physics and Astronomy
Annie Hall, Associate Director of College Advising, Instructor in Human Development, Dorm Head, Redlich
Rick Hazelton P’19,’22, Director of College Advising
James G. “Dennis” Smith III, Assistant Supervisor of Grounds
Rich Syracuse, Instructor in Bass
Tina Test ’76, Director of Leadership Giving

10 Years of Service
Jennifer Likar, Instructor in Biology
Sarah Anderson Lock P’24, Extended Assignment, Communications Specialist
Greg Lock P’24, Director of Photography, Film & Related Media, Instructor in Photography
Gail Massey, Accounts Payable Associate
Stephen McKibben P’22, Dean of Community Life, Instructor in English
Michael Reilly, Central Receiving and Purchasing Associate
Bob Reynolds, Campus Safety & Security Officer
Jake Tarsia, Information Technology and Systems Architect
Emma Wynn, Instructor in History, Philosophy & Religion
Linda Yoo P’21,’23, Summer Programs Coordinator
Pierre Yoo P’21,’23, Instructor in Chemistry, Dorm Head, Edelman
5 Years of Service
Enrique Aquino, Housekeeper
Helena Baillie, Instructor in Violin and Viola
Will Boscow ’11, Assistant Director of Admission
Craig W. Bradley, Head of School
Sara Chiarenza, Executive Assistant to the Associate Head of School, Dean of Faculty
Kait Perrelle Leonard ’06, Assistant Director of Admission
Wei Liu, Instructor in Chinese
Edward Miller, Instructor in Human Development, Dorm Head, Coy
Erby Mitchell P’21, Dean of Admission & Financial Aid, Director of the Walter Crain Fellowship Program
Kassandra Oroszco, Housekeeper
Jon Russillo, Assistant Athletic Trainer
Thomas Seleman, Sr. Technology Support Specialist
Mary Seymour, Housekeeper
Robert Seymour, Purchasing Agent
Margaret Szubra, Website & Design Manager
Yassine Talhaoui, Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Hian Lee Wilder ’86, P’17,'20, Associate Director of The Hotchkiss Fund
Edward Weihman Jr., Director of Financial Aid
Christopher Wilkerson, Campus Safety & Security Evening Shift Supervisor

Watch the replay of the anniversary event below:


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