Each year at division commencement ceremonies, Rowland Hall proudly honors faculty who have demonstrated exceptional teaching and mentoring.
The Sumner/Larsen Excellence in Teaching Faculty Awards
The Sumner/Larsen Excellence in Teaching Faculty Awards are given each year to outstanding faculty members in each division who have demonstrated a love for teaching and excellence in their fields. This award was established in 1985 by Kit Sumner and family, who have shown an unparalleled commitment to Rowland Hall for three generations. In 2022, Kurt Larsen, who shares the Sumners’ high regard for Rowland Hall’s faculty and dedication to the school, joined Kit Sumner in funding this award to increase its impact. The renamed Sumner/Larsen Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award is one of the highest recognitions of excellence in teaching at Rowland Hall. Congratulations to the following recipients.
Beginning School: Collin Wolfe, McCarthey Campus physical education teacher
Collin Wolfe is universally beloved by the children in the Beginning School. He has a warm and encouraging demeanor and an endearing silly sense of humor, which ingratiates him to Rowland Hall’s youngest learners nearly instantly. He is also a well-respected and appreciated colleague—open, flexible, and kind. Collin takes time to check in with individual grown-ups, just as he checks in with individual kids each day, and is a great collaborator and creative contributor. Collin also does an exemplary job in partnering with families, reaching out proactively to share highlights and expertly engaging them when there have been bumps in the road. He takes advantage of these opportunities to build relationships and, despite teaching so many students, somehow knows the names not only of those students but also of their parents. It’s no surprise that by October or November, gaggles of Beginning Schoolers shout “Wolfie!” from across the playground or the opposite end of the hallway upon sighting him. Thank you, Collin, for the marvelous work you do as an early childhood PE teacher.
Lower School: Marianne Love, fourth-grade teacher
Marianne Love is an expert in her craft, and her passion and skill result in a classroom community that’s joyful, safe, hardworking, and just the right amount of silly. Families love Marianne because she shares so authentically in their delight about their children’s growth and accomplishments; she helps nervous parents keep perspective, serving as a source of wisdom and modeling an even-keeled approach. Colleagues love Marianne because she is a great listener, a compassionate and supportive mentor, lots of fun to be around, and can be counted on to get the party started. Students love Marianne because she loves them, through thick and thin, and because she has high expectations of them. She knows just what to say to kids when they’re in the throes of a social dilemma or disappointed in their academic performance. She knows how to help them be brave and try something new: a tricky mental math problem, a dance move, or spending their first night away from their families. Once you’ve been a student of hers, you’re hers forever. We’re grateful to Marianne for giving so much of herself to us all, every day.
Middle School: Jill Gerber, seventh-grade English teacher
Jill Gerber is beloved by students, present and past. She understands the importance of building relationships, taking time to know each student as an individual. In her relatively short tenure at Rowland Hall, Jill has had a profound impact on students and the Middle School community. She has a passion for collaboration and professional growth, and has pushed for a culture and love of reading while also helping to articulate key skills and ideas in the curriculum. She embraces interdisciplinary learning, creating connections and partnerships. Modeling a love of reading she nurtures in students, she constantly reads and stays up to date with best practices in teaching, then eagerly shares her learning with colleagues and takes on new curricular projects. She’s served on numerous hiring committees and the Admissions Committee, and is helping to bring the strategic priority work to life. Jill believes in every student and will work tirelessly to get to know and bring out the best in them—her bottomless energy is only matched by her dedication and commitment to our students.
Upper School: Laura Meyer, science teacher
Laura Meyer has had a transformative impact on the Upper School’s program, students, and faculty in her relatively short tenure. With a broad science background that includes studying and teaching chemistry, earth science, geoscience, environmental science, paleontology, math, and physics, Laura was the right person to lead the science department’s charge to update their curriculum in alignment with our strategic priorities. In collaboration with her colleagues and in her role as department chair, Laura helped research, design, and implement an integrated science sequence that allowed for earlier access to new, innovative, and varied electives across scientific disciplines. She also wrote a significant amount of the curriculum for the introductory chemistry and physics courses. Laura has led the science department with care, compassion, and profound intellect through some of the most challenging times imaginable, nurturing meaningful relationships with students and colleagues since her first days on the job. She is also a beloved advisor to a group of tenth graders and has designed creative Interims that combine science and service with fun and community.
Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award 2023
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.
This year’s Cary Jones Faculty Mentor Award has been awarded to Melanie Robbins, kindergarten lead teacher.
When we think of remarkable educators, we often envision those who possess a charismatic presence and a commanding voice. However, Melanie exemplifies a different kind of leadership—a quiet leadership that speaks volumes through actions and inspires those around her. Much like her students, Melanie's curiosity is bottomless. She is dedicated to exploring the world around her and encourages students and colleagues to do the same. And while her eyes are always open to new and unexpected things, she is also, amazingly, always reflecting as well. For she is curious not only about what’s possible, but also about what works and why. She is always absorbing the wisdom and knowledge of those around her, whether they are five or seventy-five years old. She sets a mighty fine example for students in her commitment to learning, growth, and taking risks.
Beyond her role in the classroom, Melanie actively participates in the life and leadership of our school. She serves on committees, contributes her insights to grade level and divisional teams, and works collaboratively with colleagues to improve our program. Her dedication extends beyond the hours of the school day, as she connects with and supports her colleagues before and after school, often within the calm and dimly lit sanctuary of her classroom. Melanie’s soft-spoken approach is coupled with a quick wit and a knack for finding joy in the simplest of moments. She creates an atmosphere of warmth and laughter within her classroom and helps adults who enter her room to slow down and marvel with her at her amazing young learners at work. Finally, Melanie advocates earnestly and patiently for what she knows is right for students, centering their needs and ensuring their voices are heard, no matter how small those voices may be. For more than a decade, she has been a guiding force in the Beginning School, making meaningful changes to our program and leaving an indelible impact on the lives of countless children and their families.