Explore Topics

Custom Class: post-landing-hero

Jeanne Zeigler didn’t plan to be a teacher. She also didn’t plan to stay in Utah. In 1981 when she arrived here to stay with her brother, an administrator at a small school called Rowland Hall, she thought she was just passing through on her way to a grand western adventure that did not involve small children. Luckily for us, that’s not how things worked out.

“I always thought there must be something more interesting I can do, something more original since two out of three of my brothers were teachers and my dad was a teacher,” Zeigler said, with her trademark twinkle in her eye. “Then I met a wonderful teacher named Barbara Rabin, who made teaching children look like the very best way to spend the day. The rest is ‘herstory.’”

It has to start with the relationship you create with the kids. Everything comes from that.—Retiring Teacher Jeanne Zeigler

What a story it has been. Jeanne has worked with students at Rowland Hall in several different capacities. She was an aide in kindergarten. She ran the after-school program. She’s taught first, second, and third grade. No matter what role she was in, though, Jeanne always made sure to build a special bond with each and every student. “It has to start with the relationship you create with the kids,” she said. “Everything comes from that.”

Those relationships are what her students, and their parents, remember years later. Liza Gilbert recalled that Jeanne started building a relationship with her son Henry ’16 even before he entered her classroom in 2006. “She sent a postcard to Henry before he started school, and it said ‘I can't wait to find out all about you,’” Liza said. “I feel like that really captures Jeanne and her teachings. She just has this wonder about every child.”

Not only has Jeanne made a point of getting to know every child, but she let her students know about her. She has made sure she is not someone they can only picture in a classroom between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm. “I loved that Jeanne took all the kids to her house because when my daughter was young she always wondered where her teacher lived,” said Pamela Henderson. Her daughter Meghan ’13 had Jeanne as a teacher for both first and second grade. “Meghan is 24 now and living in New York City, but Jeanne is still her (and my) favorite teacher.”

Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus said the way Jeanne interacts with her students builds a foundation of trust.

Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus said the way Jeanne interacts with her students builds a foundation of trust. “With that foundation, she’s able to help them reach goals they may not have even imagined. She shows her students education isn’t just about her leading and them following—it’s a collaboration.” 

For the past two years, Jeanne has been collaborating in the classroom co-teaching third grade with Erika McCarthy. The less-demanding work schedule has provided a welcome segue into retirement. “The last two years have really allowed me to discover that there's a whole big world out there,” she said. “Now I plan to ride my bike, hike, knit, volunteer, and learn some new things.”

Jeanne isn’t completely leaving Rowland Hall though. In the coming year she will be serving on the Board of Trustees. She is especially excited to help with the Capital Campaign tasked with raising money for the new middle and upper school buildings on the Steiner Campus. Head of School Alan Sparrow thinks it’s an ideal fit for Jeanne to be a guiding force in the future of the community.

I want Henry to always remember how he felt as one of Jeanne's students. She just had a way of making him feel loved and happy and so he became a happy learner.—Parent Andrea Matlin

“Throughout my tenure I have counted on Jeanne as an advisor and counselor. She has given me wonderful insights into the school and helped me focus on where our school could get better,” he said. “Jeanne has been a terrific member of our community in that she can see well beyond what she needs for her own classroom or even division and promotes what's good for the whole school.”

Jeanne will be an enduring part of Rowland Hall’s legacy. She is not only in the hearts of her students, but in their rooms as well: Andrea Matlin said her sixth-grade son, Henry, still has a photo of him and his third-grade teacher on his home desk. “I want him to always remember how he felt as one of Jeanne's students,” Andrea said. “She just had a way of making him feel loved and happy and so he became a happy learner."

We wish Jeanne much happiness of her own in her retirement. We know that she will be spending a lot of time marveling at the sunset from the porch of her cabin in Boulder, Utah. We know that she will be reading and re-reading the many books from her two book clubs. We hope she gets to enjoy time on her wished-for scooter (while wearing a helmet, of course). We are all so happy that she became a teacher in Utah, and a teacher at Rowland Hall. 

retirement

Jeanne Zeigler's Unexpected Teaching Adventure

Jeanne Zeigler didn’t plan to be a teacher. She also didn’t plan to stay in Utah. In 1981 when she arrived here to stay with her brother, an administrator at a small school called Rowland Hall, she thought she was just passing through on her way to a grand western adventure that did not involve small children. Luckily for us, that’s not how things worked out.

“I always thought there must be something more interesting I can do, something more original since two out of three of my brothers were teachers and my dad was a teacher,” Zeigler said, with her trademark twinkle in her eye. “Then I met a wonderful teacher named Barbara Rabin, who made teaching children look like the very best way to spend the day. The rest is ‘herstory.’”

It has to start with the relationship you create with the kids. Everything comes from that.—Retiring Teacher Jeanne Zeigler

What a story it has been. Jeanne has worked with students at Rowland Hall in several different capacities. She was an aide in kindergarten. She ran the after-school program. She’s taught first, second, and third grade. No matter what role she was in, though, Jeanne always made sure to build a special bond with each and every student. “It has to start with the relationship you create with the kids,” she said. “Everything comes from that.”

Those relationships are what her students, and their parents, remember years later. Liza Gilbert recalled that Jeanne started building a relationship with her son Henry ’16 even before he entered her classroom in 2006. “She sent a postcard to Henry before he started school, and it said ‘I can't wait to find out all about you,’” Liza said. “I feel like that really captures Jeanne and her teachings. She just has this wonder about every child.”

Not only has Jeanne made a point of getting to know every child, but she let her students know about her. She has made sure she is not someone they can only picture in a classroom between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm. “I loved that Jeanne took all the kids to her house because when my daughter was young she always wondered where her teacher lived,” said Pamela Henderson. Her daughter Meghan ’13 had Jeanne as a teacher for both first and second grade. “Meghan is 24 now and living in New York City, but Jeanne is still her (and my) favorite teacher.”

Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus said the way Jeanne interacts with her students builds a foundation of trust.

Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus said the way Jeanne interacts with her students builds a foundation of trust. “With that foundation, she’s able to help them reach goals they may not have even imagined. She shows her students education isn’t just about her leading and them following—it’s a collaboration.” 

For the past two years, Jeanne has been collaborating in the classroom co-teaching third grade with Erika McCarthy. The less-demanding work schedule has provided a welcome segue into retirement. “The last two years have really allowed me to discover that there's a whole big world out there,” she said. “Now I plan to ride my bike, hike, knit, volunteer, and learn some new things.”

Jeanne isn’t completely leaving Rowland Hall though. In the coming year she will be serving on the Board of Trustees. She is especially excited to help with the Capital Campaign tasked with raising money for the new middle and upper school buildings on the Steiner Campus. Head of School Alan Sparrow thinks it’s an ideal fit for Jeanne to be a guiding force in the future of the community.

I want Henry to always remember how he felt as one of Jeanne's students. She just had a way of making him feel loved and happy and so he became a happy learner.—Parent Andrea Matlin

“Throughout my tenure I have counted on Jeanne as an advisor and counselor. She has given me wonderful insights into the school and helped me focus on where our school could get better,” he said. “Jeanne has been a terrific member of our community in that she can see well beyond what she needs for her own classroom or even division and promotes what's good for the whole school.”

Jeanne will be an enduring part of Rowland Hall’s legacy. She is not only in the hearts of her students, but in their rooms as well: Andrea Matlin said her sixth-grade son, Henry, still has a photo of him and his third-grade teacher on his home desk. “I want him to always remember how he felt as one of Jeanne's students,” Andrea said. “She just had a way of making him feel loved and happy and so he became a happy learner."

We wish Jeanne much happiness of her own in her retirement. We know that she will be spending a lot of time marveling at the sunset from the porch of her cabin in Boulder, Utah. We know that she will be reading and re-reading the many books from her two book clubs. We hope she gets to enjoy time on her wished-for scooter (while wearing a helmet, of course). We are all so happy that she became a teacher in Utah, and a teacher at Rowland Hall. 

retirement

Explore More People Stories

teacher talking to students in class

The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) recently named debate teacher Mike Shackelford the 2019 Speech Educator of the Year—a Distinguished Service Award given primarily for Mike’s work strengthening debate programs not just here at Rowland Hall, but across Utah.

I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state.—Debate Coach Mike Shackelford

“I'm grateful that my job allows me the opportunity to get involved in the larger debate community and make a difference for more kids in the state,” Mike said. “My mentors—Ryan Hoglund, especially—taught me the importance of giving back early in my career.” Ryan, our former debate coach and current director of ethical education, won this service award in 2007. 

Mike explained that school activities like debate depend on countless acts of service, from volunteer judges to late-night transportation and beyond. “Everyone is working so hard that it seems selfish not to do my part,” he said. “I also love matching the passion and work ethic that my students put into the activity.”

Match, he has. Since he joined Rowland Hall in 2007, Mike has taken on an array of leadership roles and accumulated several prestigious awards:

  • Utah Debate Coaches Association (UDCA) Chair of the Elementary and Middle School Division (2017–present)
  • UDCA Chair of the Novice Policy Committee (2016–present)
  • National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) State Educator of the Year for Utah (2017–2018)
  • NSDA National District Chair of the Year (2016)
  • UDCA Policy Debate Coach of the Year (2014)
  • National Debate Coaches Association Executive Board (2013–2015)
  • NSDA Chair of the Great Salt Lake District (2011–2016)
  • UHSAA Speech and Debate Representative (2009–2015)

Rowland Hall Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic nominated Mike for the award and confirmed his dedication to debate. “Mike’s classes are full of enthusiastic debaters who feed off his energy and knowledge,” Kendra wrote in her recommendation letter. “He loves working with students in a competitive environment and it shows.”

For the Shackelfords, debate—and the friendly competition thereof—is a way of life: Mike's wife, Carol, won this award six years ago while coaching for Bingham High School. "Now I'm even with her, which feels great," Mike joked.

Mike is the eighth Rowland Hall employee to receive one of these awards.

The UHSAA started their Distinguished Service Awards program in 1987 to honor individuals for their contributions to high school activities. Mike is one of 17 Utahns to be honored this year, and he’s the eighth Rowland Hall employee on record to receive one of these awards. View a list of past recipients in our article on band director and music teacher Dr. Bret Jackson, UHSAA’s 2018 Music Educator of the Year.

Debate

Samantha Paisley skiing uphill.

Rowland Hall’s winter sports program introduced now-junior Samantha Paisley to backcountry skiing in eighth grade. Now, she’s in Lausanne, Switzerland, representing the United States in ski mountaineering—what she describes as “backcountry ski racing”—at the Youth Olympic Games.

This is the first year that ski mountaineering—known as SkiMo—will be included in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), and the sport may be added to the Winter Olympics in 2026. In Lausanne, Samantha is one of only two US girls and one of 48 total international athletes competing in SkiMo. She’ll race in all three events: the individual on January 10, the sprint on January 13, and the mixed-nations relay—featuring randomly grouped teams of two boys and two girls—on January 14.

A description of the SkiMo events, according to olympic.org:

"Individual races are similar to a marathon, with athletes setting off in a mass start over a course with at least three ascents and descents and up to 1,900m of elevation gain. Races typically last between one-and-a-half and two hours, with at least one ascent where athletes need to remove their skis and climb on foot. As the name suggests, sprint races are much shorter and faster than individual races. The total ascent and descent is usually around 100m, with the fastest athletes completing the course in approximately three minutes. Relay races, meanwhile, feature a team of three or four athletes, with each member of the team completing a short circuit one after the other. Like the sprint, the relay is quite a fast event, with each circuit lasting about 15 minutes and including two ascents and descents."

Samantha Paisley skis uphill with competitors in background.

Samantha Paisley at the 2019 SkiMo World Championships.

Join us in supporting Samantha and Team USA: Rowland Hall is throwing a YOG SkiMo viewing party (event TBD) at noon on Monday, January 13, in the Larimer Center. We’ll also share Samantha’s results on Twitter as we hear them. A TeamUSA.org article details more ways to keep track of the YOG: check TeamUSA.org/Lausanne2020 or Team USA’s social channels; sign up for the Team USA Daily newsletter; download the Team USA app; or check the Olympic Channel or their app.

We chatted with Samantha before she traveled to Lausanne on January 6, the same day school started up after winter break. She’ll miss two weeks of class to compete in the YOG, but thanks in part to Rowmark Ski Academy, Rowland Hall’s teachers and staff already have the infrastructure to help elite student-athletes succeed.

The following Q&A has been lightly edited for length, style, and context.

How do you explain SkiMo to people who’ve never heard of it?

I usually describe it as backcountry ski racing. You start at the bottom of the mountain with skins on the bottom of your skis, race to the top, take the skins off, ski down, put the skins back on, and race right back up.

How did you get into this sport?

I found it in 2017, the winter of my eighth-grade year. I picked backcountry skiing (chaperoned by teachers Bill Shann and Molly Lewis) for my winter sport and had so much fun! Then my mom—a Snowbird ski-patroller/physician who’d been backcountry skiing for years—took me touring a few more times, and the skiing was incredible. Later that season I saw a flier for the Wasatch Powder Keg, a race at Brighton that covers the entire resort and the backcountry (i.e., Snake Creek and Guardsman Pass). So the next weekend I showed up to the race and got fourth place.

I even had a chance to use my Chinese mid-race—as I passed the athlete from China, I said some words of encouragement. After the race, she came up to me and we had a whole conversation in Chinese.—Junior Samantha Paisley

In March you competed in the World Championships in Villars, Switzerland. How did that go?

I finished as the 12th woman under age 17. It was such a neat experience. I learned so much about racing, balancing my school work, and standing up for myself. I became friends with the junior overall world champion, Katia from Russia, and we’re now pen pals. I even had a chance to use my Chinese mid-race—as I passed the athlete from China, I said some words of encouragement. After the race, she came up to me and we had a whole conversation in Chinese.

How did you qualify for the YOG?

The only race we’ve had this season was the Youth Olympic Qualifiers in Eldora, Colorado, where I ranked second overall (I got third in the individual and first in the sprint). My time in the sprint ranked me as the second-fastest woman of that day—the same day as the national championships for the elite men and women. So there was some pretty tough competition.

Samantha Paisley on top of SkiMo podium.

Samantha Paisley in the top podium spot for the sprint at the Youth Olympic Qualifiers in Colorado.

How does it feel to be representing your country in the YOG? And doing so during SkiMo’s debut?

It’s crazy! I can’t believe that out of all the youth athletes, I get to go. This sport is becoming more and more competitive and it feels surreal to be a part of such a monumental moment in SkiMo history. I’m also excited to meet people from other countries and watch some events. I’m very excited to see figure skating. 

When you get into the right headspace and feel confident, ignore everything else, and push yourself to go as fast as you can, it’s the best feeling in the world.

SkiMo is known as a grueling sport—is that true? Why have you continued to compete at such an advanced level? What drives you?

Honestly, the sport is very, very physically intense, but the hardest part is the mental component. It’s easy to give up quickly and it’s also easy to give up when you get passed by someone. Because of the length of the courses, you don’t move as quickly as if you were running or biking, and that can get frustrating. Therefore, no matter your physical fitness, if you aren’t in the right headspace it’s hard to do well. On the flip side, when you get into that headspace and feel confident, ignore everything else, and push yourself to go as fast as you can, it’s the best feeling in the world. 

I love this sport because all ages usually compete at the same time. It’s awesome because I get to train and race with incredible women and men who’ve not only raced the world circuit and done well, but also maintained full-time careers and balanced their lives well. It’s unreal that I have the mentors I have. And it’s also cool because there are a lot of young kids who look up to me on my Silver Fork SkiMo team, and I can be a role model and mentor to them.

What’s your training like?

I train everywhere I can. The beauty of SkiMo is that as long as you’re traveling uphill, you’re training. So, I spend my days hiking, running, biking, and skiing. I also joined Utah Crew and spend the spring, summer, and fall training with them. 

In the winter, I work out indoors once or twice a week. Cross-training is a big part of my philosophy because doing only one activity intensely can result in injury; it’s important to use muscles other than the ones specific to your sport. My SkiMo practice consists of two or three days of endurance—I often get 4,000 to 5,000 vertical feet in, which is about eight to 10 miles, depending on the location. I do sprint/interval work three times a week, and one of those days I do a crew workout. I take one or two days off to rest, mainly to catch up on sleep, do homework, and study for tests and quizzes.

Where do you hope to go with the sport—can you do it at the college level? Beyond? The 2026 Olympics?

After the YOG my goal is to qualify again for the US National Team and return to Europe to race in the World Championships in 2021. I also hope to ski in college—wherever I go, I want to start a team if there isn’t one. But I haven’t thought about my SkiMo future a lot. I like to live in the moment and set small goals—especially in such an intense sport, it’s hard to have a lot of lofty goals without losing perspective. I do have a national teammate, Grace Staberg, who is a senior in high school and is over in Europe for the rest of the school year racing the World Cup series. I wouldn’t be opposed to that.


Top photo: Samantha Paisley making the first ascent in the individual event at the World Championships in Villars, Switzerland, on March 11.

Students

Senior Jordan Crockett Commits to Playing D1 Soccer for the University of Denver

On November 13, surrounded by family and friends, Rowland Hall senior Jordan Crockett did something she had been dreaming about for years: she signed the National Letter of Intent confirming her decision to play soccer at the University of Denver (DU). 

A dream come true: Jordan signing her National Letter of Intent at her November 13 signing party.


Jordan is one of eight women who signed onto DU’s 2020 roster this month. As a Division I school—the highest level of intercollegiate sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—DU recruits some of the strongest high-school athletes from around the country. Jordan brings to the team years of high-level experience in club soccer, where she has played on several Utah teams: Black Diamond Soccer Club, Utah Soccer Alliance, and Celtic Premier FC, which won the US Youth Soccer National Championship in July.

While club players often choose to play at that level alone, rather than on high school teams, Jordan opted to play at Rowland Hall because of its close-knit community and for an extra, athletics-focused layer of college counseling and preparation. Bobby Kennedy, who coached Jordan for four years, explained that Rowland Hall was committed to helping her achieve her goal of playing D1 soccer. To do this, the school didn’t just help to hone her technical skills; her coaches, teachers, and college counselor also helped Jordan identify her top schools and develop the academic skills necessary to secure a spot on their teams—and, ultimately, in their classrooms.

Jordan’s high-caliber skills don’t come with an inflated ego: she’s a recognized leader among her peers, in part, because she’s fully committed to Rowland Hall’s team-first, family-like atmosphere, Bobby said.

“When we asked all the kids where they would prefer to play, she would write down, ‘Anywhere on the field but goalie,’” he explained. “You might think a player that’s reached her level of prominence in club, and is the classification’s MVP, would say, “I want to play center midfield,’ or ‘I want to play up front where I can score goals.’ By saying ‘I’ll play anywhere,’ you can read into the fact that she’s putting the team first.”

In addition to her strong leadership, Bobby said, Rowland Hall will remember Jordan as a consummate student-athlete, and probably the most impactful player in the last 10 years. 

“She’s literally a once-in-a-decade player,” he said.

Update November 26, 2019: For the second time, Jordan Crockett has been named 2A MVP. Read the story in the Deseret News. Congratulations, Jordan!


We asked Jordan to share more about her experience and how it feels to commit to DU. The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your athletic journey.

I started playing soccer when I was two, with my mom. I wasn’t really focused on soccer at first—I was a gymnast until I was around six. Then I decided I just wanted to play soccer, and that’s when I started playing club competitively. Once I got to Rowland Hall, my freshman year was a little bit rocky, adjusting to a level I wasn’t really used to playing at. But to build a relationship with people who are in the same community as me every single day was super special. The next three years we won the state championship, which was amazing. And with club, my junior year, I was also able to win the national championship. We are the first team from Utah to ever do that, so that was pretty amazing too.

Why was it important for you to continue playing at the high school level, even while you were involved with club soccer?

I didn’t want to let go of the community; I wanted to stay throughout my four years. It was a different level, but taught me how to lead in a different way and how to share an experience with everyone else. It helped me understand that I’m building family relationships with all of my teammates.

What does it mean to you to be recruited by a D1 school for the sport you love?

Relieved is one of the main things. I was recruited by many D1 schools, and to go to Denver is honestly a blessing. I remember 13-year-old me taking Polaroid pictures of my Denver soccer shirt and posting them on my wall. It’s really a dream come true.

How were you able to balance academics and athletics while at Rowland Hall?

My teachers, the principals, and the whole staff at Rowland Hall are so helpful and really easy to communicate with about being a high-level athlete and having to balance academics. I think being able to have a community that’s so accepting, and having them support me through my whole athletic career, was super helpful.

What is the top skill you gained at Rowland Hall that you'll be taking with you to Denver?

Probably the willingness to be open to new things. Rowland Hall has given me a lot of opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. It’s really cool that Rowland Hall is a community that is able to teach you new things every single day.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to be on the national team—that’s one of my biggest hopes and dreams. But if not, then I see myself in a job I enjoy, with my family and friends supporting me, and just enjoying life— trying to take each day a step at a time and live with no regrets.

Athletics

Ben Amiel 2019 Outstanding Young Volunteer

 

Rowland Hall is thrilled to announce that senior Ben Amiel was honored as the 2019 Outstanding Young Volunteer at the Utah Philanthropy Day luncheon on November 19. This annual award goes to one role model who’s under age 30 and demonstrates exceptional and sustained commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism in the community.

Ben’s nomination was spearheaded by Jewish Family Service (JFS), where he began volunteering in the food pantry at age 13 for his bar mitzvah project. Ben still serves in the food pantry today, and over the years has taken on more responsibility: in fall 2017, when JFS received a grant to enlarge the pantry, Ben helped reorganize the space. In 2018, he ran an iPod drive and fundraiser for Music and Memory, a program for people suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

It is a rarity to come upon such a young person with such an interest in responding to the varied needs of our clients.—Jewish Family Service

“Ben brings a kind, calming presence to the agency,” the JFS team wrote in their nomination letter. “He seems to recognize the value in each person, and also in what we do to support them.” And his work makes a difference—his dedication to Music and Memory, for instance, resulted in the most successful donation drive in JFS history.

“Ben’s willingness to commit to JFS, adapting and finding additional ways to support and further our work is exceptional,” the team said. “It is a rarity to come upon such a young person with such an interest in responding to the varied needs of our clients. Many of our volunteers opt in for a short time, often fulfilling a goal or project, or doing something they think will look good on a resume. Ben is a committed volunteer.”

His demonstrated devotion to JFS helped set Ben apart from other nominees in the Outstanding Young Volunteer category. “What’s superlative about Ben is his tremendous, and ongoing, commitment to JFS,” said Utah Philanthropy Day committee member Jessie Foster Strike. “Each year, Ben has found new ways to deepen his contributions to the organization, which has allowed JFS to deepen its service to the community. Whether he’s stocking shelves in the food pantry, organizing a fundraiser, or educating himself on a new program, he sees an opportunity, steps up, and take the initiative to help.”

Ben Amiel at the Jewish Family Service food pantry.

Ben Amiel working in Jewish Family Service's food pantry. Photo courtesy Darcy Amiel

Ben’s dedication to JFS, on top of his rigorous academic and extracurricular load, would be impressive on its own. But he has also chosen to dedicate much of his time to serving fellow students at Rowland Hall, where he’s attended school since third grade.

“Over the years, I have seen the development of a truly sincere mentor of younger students and a hardworking individual who values and contributes to his community,” wrote Rowland Hall’s Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund in one of the letters that the school contributed to the JFS nomination.

Ben’s commitment to leadership and service at Rowland Hall is best illustrated by his involvement with the school’s debate program. A successful debater himself (he’s an Academic All-American, a National Qualifier, and has won awards at tournaments all over the state and country), Ben has mentored Middle School debate students since his freshman year, happily giving his limited free time to tasks like helping students hone their research and argumentation skills and judging tournaments.

“Debate is Ben's life and he's naturally drawn to opportunities that let him showcase his experience and wisdom,” said Debate Coach Mike Shackelford. He explained that Ben played a major role in establishing the debate mentoring program, including setting the tone and expectations for those who want to help. And he doesn’t shy away from the time-consuming work required, Mike said, because he understands the benefits of mentoring. “Ben will go out of his way to give real coaching feedback. He'll write out comprehensive evaluations. He'll proofread student work. He's always pushing them to meet their potential.”

Ben understands that dialogue is the basis of a healthy democracy. More important than ‘winning’ any argument, for Ben, is the opportunity for ideas to be tested and exchanged respectfully in public.—Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund

This influence on middle schoolers is powerful, particularly because Ben has been in their shoes and serves as an example of where hard work can lead. “Middle School students can relate to Ben in direct and meaningful ways that I will never be able to,” Mike said. “They can see themselves on the same path. This gives them confidence and assurance that it will work out.”

Ben’s love of debate and, most importantly, to learning itself, also inspired him to establish a student debate group that meets weekly to discuss timely political topics. “Ben understands that dialogue is the basis of a healthy democracy,” Ryan wrote. “More important than ‘winning’ any argument, for Ben, is the opportunity for ideas to be tested and exchanged respectfully in public.”

Mike agreed. “He's always had a larger perspective on why he debates. For him, debate is a means to an end. He doesn't do it for trophies—he participates because he loves the challenge, the skill development, the knowledge he gains, and the people he meets. Setting up clubs and doing service is just a natural extension to this purposeful approach to activities.”

It is this natural drive to use his strengths to make a difference that truly sets Ben apart as a leader. Former Upper School history teacher Fiona Halloran summed it up when she wrote, “I believe that Ben is a person for whom puzzles and challenges are central to intellectual and personal engagement. He thinks the world ought to function smoothly. It does not. So he seeks ideas and actions that can make it a little better.”

Thank you, Ben, for your commitment to making the world a little better every day. From all of us at Rowland Hall, congratulations on this recognition.

Students

You Belong at Rowland Hall