Each year at division commencement ceremonies, Rowland Hall proudly honors faculty who have demonstrated exceptional teaching and mentoring.
Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award 2021
The Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award is presented to Rowland Hall faculty members who demonstrate excellence in teaching, serve as mentors to others, and contribute to the Rowland Hall community. This award was established through an anonymous gift to the school in honor of Mr. Jones' dedication to the faculty when he was the chair of the Board of Trustees.
Though traditionally given to one faculty member each year, this year’s Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award has been awarded to two: Mary Jo Marker, eighth-grade American studies teacher, and Chelsea Vasquez, eighth-grade English teacher. Dedicated to teamwork, Mary Jo and Chelsea are a dynamic duo in the Middle School, where they have redefined and re-energized their grade-level programs, creating English and American Studies curricula that are challenging and relevant, that set up students for success in Upper School, and that help students become creative, critical thinkers. Mary Jo and Chelsea have also greatly contributed to the school community as colleagues, whether by participating in the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee, leading a Critical Friends Group, mentoring or coaching faculty, covering classes, or helping to organize eighth-grade graduation events. And in a year where time was an incredibly precious resource, they have dedicated a great deal of it to meeting with Upper School teachers to support the transition to ninth grade, continuing to strengthen curriculum alignment between the Middle School and Upper School.
For their dedication to teamwork, particularly in ways that define the values at Rowland Hall—especially relationships matter, welcome everyone, and learn for life—Rowland Hall proudly honors Mary Jo Marker and Chelsea Vasquez with the 2021 Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award.
Sumner Family Excellence in Teaching Awards
The Sumner Family Excellence in Teaching Award is given each year to an outstanding faculty member in each division who has demonstrated a love for teaching and excellence in their field. The award symbolizes the Sumner family's high regard for Rowland Hall's faculty. Congratulations to the following recipients.
Beginning School: Isabelle Buhler, 4PreK lead teacher
Isabelle Buhler exhibits total commitment to her teaching, colleagues, and school—a fact that is no less true today than it was 18 years ago. Her love of her work is infectious. She cherishes each of her students, thoughtfully adjusting her pedagogy, communication style, and curriculum to meet their needs, and delights in building classroom communities of mutual respect, unending curiosity, and collective responsibility. Though she is an accomplished, highly effective educator, Isabelle epitomizes a growth mindset, actively seeking opportunities to improve her work and committing to generously offering kind, clear, and actionable feedback to colleagues. She also serves the wider Rowland Hall community in myriad ways: on committees, as a mentor, as an ombudsperson, and more. During this especially challenging and wild school year, her meaningful contributions and support have kept teammates and families afloat
Lower School: Abby Bacon, Spanish teacher
Since 2008, Abby Bacon has created a classroom environment of respect and positive rapport, where she keeps students motivated, excited, and engaged, and where they know their feedback and opinions are valued. In addition to teaching Spanish to several Lower School grade levels over the years, Abby has served as yearbook coordinator, co-chaired the Lower School Caring Committee, and acted as one of the fifth-grade advisors for the 2020–2021 school year. She’s also an incredible colleague and collaborator who shares her organization skills, energy, and magnetic personality in caring and dynamic ways, including partnering with colleagues as co-coordinator for the school’s Northwest Association of Independent Schools accreditation self-study and harnessing her passion for inclusivity as co-chair of the faculty and staff JEDI Committee for the past two years.
Middle School: Sara Yoon, orchestra director
Sara Yoon is a highly respected and beloved teacher within the Middle School community. Full of energy and positivity, she sets the bar high for herself and her students, while also building trust in the classroom, on the basketball and volleyball courts, and on the stage. She has single-handedly built an award-winning orchestra program at Rowland Hall, where she regularly brings in guest performers and, this year, helped to organize a very successful and popular Zoom presentation for the eighth grade. She also goes above and beyond in supporting her students, whether that means visiting one of her advisee’s homes if they fall behind with their school work, cooking with students over Zoom, or cheering for student-athletes on the slopes or the sidelines.
Upper School: Doug Wortham, French teacher
Doug Wortham epitomizes what is best about Rowland Hall teachers: a tireless dedication to coaching students to actively engage with their learning and to grow beyond what they thought possible. He has taught all levels of Upper School French, guiding students to mastery and fluency with high standards, hard work, and relationships built on trust and encouragement. Even more than 40 years into his Rowland Hall adventure, Doug possesses a work ethic and nonstop energy that are truly impressive. When the pandemic hit and scrambled teachers’ plans, he continued to learn and adapt, engaging in new ways. In addition to his educator role, Doug is a coach and mentor to colleagues, serving as a sounding board and a wise, impartial mentor, and he is held in the highest esteem by the entire community.