Posted: October 12, 2012

In keeping with a long-standing St. Mark’s tradition, Head of School John C. Warren ’74 will be taking a six-month sabbatical leave beginning July 1, 2013. The sabbatical was announced at the Fall Meeting of the St. Mark’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Laura Appell-Warren, who teaches in the history and social sciences and religion departments, will also be taking a sabbatical with her husband.

The first St. Mark’s sabbatical program for faculty was approved by the Board in 1899, and the School’s first sabbatical recipient was then-Senior Master William Wyatt Barber Sr. Unlike many other schools, St. Mark’s extended the sabbatical benefit to include the headmaster. In 1903, Headmaster William Greenough Thayer took his sabbatical, the first of three over the course of his 36 years at the helm. Filling in as acting headmaster on each of those occasions was Mr. Barber Sr. His son, William Wyatt Barber Jr, would be the next St. Mark’s headmaster to benefit from the School’s sabbatical program.

Since 1900, St. Mark’s has traditionally made one full-year sabbatical available each year to a faculty member for the purpose of strengthening that individual’s ability to make the greatest possible contribution to the School in the future. These sabbaticals have been both developmental and regenerative. Teachers can use the time to pursue learning and exploration involving professional enrichment and development through reading and research, teaching, volunteering, and/or taking advantage of opportunities to gain, develop, or practice skills in a particular area of specialty. In addition (and often simultaneously), faculty can use a sabbatical to reenergize, using the time off to travel and to engage in a creative pursuit or an area of personal interest.

These sabbaticals help the individual to grow intellectually and creatively, supporting professional and personal development to the positive benefit of the School for the future. In 2012-13, veteran art teacher Barbara Putnam is on sabbatical. She is travelling on a fellowship aboard a Barkentine Tall Ship, sailing north of the Arctic Circle. She will also serve as the 2012-2013 Coastal Studies artist in residence at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME. Faculty are currently applying for the 2013-14 sabbatical award.

Assistant Head of School/Dean of Faculty Michael Wirtz will be Acting Headmaster in Mr. Warren’s absence. “I am sure that all leadership work will proceed in an outstanding way during my sabbatical time,” says Warren.

“I am excited about the opportunity, over those six months, to engage in professional reading that will facilitate my continued intellectual growth,” continues Mr. Warren. “I am also excited about the opportunity to travel. Laura, in her role as Co-Chair of the Global Citizenship Initiative, and I are planning a trip of at least six weeks that will take us to Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. During those trips we will visit schools that have expressed an interest in participating in our Global Citizenship initiative, including Waterford Kamhlaba United World College in Swaziland, where St. Mark’s had a relationship up until the early 1970s.” About the sabbatical Appell-Warren says: “In addition to seeing some of the schools that we are partnering with, I am particularly excited to visit some of the sacred places that I cover in my religion class. Being able to personally visit some of those sites will enable me to teach my class in a much more in depth manner.” The Warrens will return to their St. Mark’s posts on January 1, 2014.