Faculty Excellence Fund
Superb, caring faculty members form the cornerstone of the St. Mark’s educational experience. Beyond their academic duties, faculty members serve as coaches, advisors, and House Parents, supporting and nurturing their students in every aspect of their lives. We must continue to provide opportunities for faculty members to grow and thrive personally and professionally at St. Mark’s, while offering the level of competitive compensation that the marketplace requires and recognizing those who go above and beyond in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in their homes as House Parents. Gifts to our new Faculty Excellence Fund will transform these ambitions into reality and complement our existing professional growth offerings.
Side by Side
During their years at St. Mark’s, students interact with faculty members in a variety of capacities. Certain relationships, however, transcend the usual teacher-student dynamic, and form the basis of rewarding, often lifelong connections defined by mutual respect and understanding.
David Lyons & Rwick Sarkar ’19
Even though Rwick Sarkar ’19 didn’t set out to become a star when he joined the cross country team in his first year at St. Mark’s, he has risen to the challenge of becoming a team captain; in the process, he has developed a unique relationship with coach David Lyons. “Mr. Lyons has really high expectations for the team,” Rwick explains. “He creates a culture of excellence that inspires each and every one of us.”
David and Rwick got to know each other better in the residence hall during Rwick’s V Form year before Rwick enrolled in David’s government class his VI Form year. Multidimensional student-faculty relationships like theirs distinguish the living and learning experience at St. Mark’s. “Interacting with students in various settings provides me with unique insight into what motivates and excites them,” explains David. “Rwick is an excellent student and a hard worker in the classroom, and he shows the same dedication as a runner.”
As he prepares to graduate, Rwick appreciates how personal relationships formed at St. Mark’s have guided and transformed him. “You can’t help but get to know everybody at the School well,” he says. “I feel very lucky that I can talk to teachers like Mr. Lyons about anything.”
Kimberley Berndt, Faith Jennings ’19, & Jeanna Cook
The relationship between student and advisor is one of the defining aspects of the St. Mark’s experience. “I’m more than just an advocate for my students,” explains Jeanna Cook, chair of the Classics Department. “It’s my responsibility to know their aspirations and talents, and to help them come to understand themselves— both as students and as people.” As a student focused on STEM disciplines, Faith Jennings appreciates having an advisor like Jeanna, who specializes in the humanities. “Ms. Cook adds another valuable perspective to my education,” Faith says. “She helps me think critically about my work in the sciences, whether I’m writing and editing a lab report or considering the ethics of genetic engineering.” Faith has also worked closely with science teacher Kimberley Berndt to co-design a Saturday course on model organisms. “When Faith is curious about a subject, she takes the initiative to learn as much as she can,” explains Kimberley. “Few other schools oer the opportunities for research and self-directed discovery available at St. Mark’s, and Faith has taken tremendous advantage of that.” Kimberley has encouraged and supported Faith’s independent project as a STEM Research Fellow, which focuses on how heat stress affects the chromosomes of microscopic worms. “Having so many teachers with differing perspectives has redened my learning,” Faith explains. “I’ve experienced a range of approaches and philosophies, which has helped me narrow in on what works best for me.
When graduates look back on their St. Mark’s experience, it is the lessons learned from teachers and the memories made while living in a close-knit community that had the greatest impact on their lives.
- R. William Burgess ’77, P’07, P’08